Sexplanations with Stacey: The privacy of pregnancy

Stacey Jacobs

When are you having children? Many assume that if a couple has been together for an extended period of time, has gotten married or live together, that this is the automatic next step. Or that a person, usually a woman, of a certain age has a biologically ticking clock. These assumptions happen often and asking this question can be hurtful, awkward and offensive.

Many people, and couples, are making the decision to not raise children, or to adopt, even if they are biologically capable of having children. There are also same sex couples and many people who are biologically not capable of having children of their own. To a person struggling emotionally and physically with infertility, a question like, “when are you having children?” can be devastating. There are also a significant amount of people who are struggling emotionally and physically with miscarriages.

Most Canadians live in a time and place where fertility options and assisted reproduction are available, although not always accessible.
Fertility treatments can cost thousands of dollars, and are often not fully covered by Ontario Health Care. Employer benefits may cover some, but not likely all of the costs. And if an individual chooses to adopt internationally, associated costs often exceed tens of thousands of dollars, plus the cost of travel. Not to mention the amount of time spent on such options, which may interfere with the ability to work fulltime.

The Canadian government has placed restrictions on fertility options, such as prohibiting the sale of sperm and eggs, something readily accessible in the United States. Sperm and eggs can be donated, but not purchased. You also cannot pay a surrogate for anything other than the costs they incur related to the pregnancy.

Although options do exist for assisted reproduction, the fact that fertility is still not something people openly and honestly discuss makes it difficult for people going through the process. They often carry the burden alone and have little support or people to talk to. Keeping the discourse on fertil- ity behind a proverbial locked door impedes access to information and knowledge about the appropriate person or organization to approach. Waterloo Region now has two fertility clinics, KARMA and ONE Fertility. There are also clinics in Toronto and London.

Not everyone wants children. Not everyone is biologically able to conceive or have children, and not everyone wants to discuss this.