This morning, I was listening to NPR while driving to work and was really moved by a story about Africa’s Yoga Project – helping people in dire circumstances find hope and some happiness through yoga. They interviewed a woman who teaches yoga in the ghettos of Nairobi – an area with “crushing poverty”. This woman had experienced poverty and witnessed the horrors of war herself and really found yoga to be a lifeline of health and hope in her life. She was still poor, still living in the slums, but she had quit her drug habit and feeling very positive about teaching yoga to hundreds of other people dwelling in the slums.
Infertility does not involve such obvious external signs of despair as we see in the slums of Nairobi with its poor sanitation, crime, drug abuse and poverty, but many studies demonstrate that the despair can still be profound. Many people affected by infertility have levels of stress similar to that experienced by people with a life threatening cancer diagnosis, or people who have just lost a loved one to death. This should not be ignored but it often is. In fact, because the signs of this distress are not so obvious to the outside world or even to the person struggling to conceive, the stress and distress can be belittled and ignored. The consequences of ignoring the stress of infertility can be severe – anxiety, depression, marital problems (the divorce rate, already high in this country is significantly higher in couples who experience infertility), insomnia, and these problems can continue even after successful conception and delivery.