Friday, September 3, 2010

Did I Make Myself Infertile?

The other day an acquaintance/friend invited me into a discussion she'd been having with others all day. How processed food causes infertility.

As soon as she said this, I started to squirm.

What an odd topic to bring up with someone right off the bat. She knows I am infertile and adopted a baby. I think she was actually enthusiastic to get me ranting and raving about the evils of Chef Boyardee. (She's kind of a hippie type.)

I'm not a hippie type. I consider myself pretty...well...normal. I hit up a fast food restaurant maybe once a week. My kitchen contains a fair balance of fresh fruits and veggies, meat bought from the butcher, and cupboards of canned veggies, canned fruits, cereals, etc. Pretty normal. I'm not a Hamburger Helper every night kind of cook (but maybe once a month). I cook from scratch on a regular basis. I have a garden in my back yard (though we didn't plant this year) and enjoy home grown produce.

Growing up, things were even more...scratchy. My mom *never* used Hamburger Helper. She not only grew her own produce but also canned it (a task I have yet to undertake). She was quite frugal...and doing so we rarely were treated to dinners out, soda pop, or even microwave popcorn.

So yeah, I'm no organic vegan. But I didn't subsist on what I consider processed foods. Although, even "raw" foods at the grocery have often been "tampered" with through hormones, fertilizers, and steroids.

Anyway, back to the super weird conversation. I didn't know what to say about my "friend's" invitation to openly talk about my reproductive issues. I think my reaction - or lack of one - made her feel awkward too. I'm glad. Maybe I am reading into it wrong, but to me it sounded like, "You made yourself infertile by eating crappy food. It was your own fault. Or the government's fault and you should probably be enraged."

I don't believe that.

I do believe that God has a plan for me. And part of it is this hiccup with my body. The same way I am allergic to cats (yet still own one--here's to blatantly ignoring our bodies' faults!).

the baby and the cat my body did not want me to have. take that, body!

But I was curious enough to Google the topic. And I found an article about the dangers of processed food. It said this about infertility:

We know from animal studies that if you continue a deficient diet for three generations, reproduction ceases and that's what we're seeing now. About 25% of couples are infertile. If we don't go back to a diet that produces good health, the human race will eventually die out.

While I still don't think I'll have much to contribute to this acquaintance the next time she brings up my lady-bit malfunctions, I do think our society may have compromised quality for ease.

Any thoughts on processed foods and infertility? Is it bunk? Totally true? Or is the jury still out? Was it weird for someone I don't know that well to bring up this conversation with me? Did I overreact?


Jill Elizabeth said...

I'd have read into it just the same. I'm not going to say that food has nothing to do with health, both reproductive and general, but I think it's foolish to place the blame for infertility squarely on diet. And I think it's a really random thing for someone to bring up.

I think the fact that 25% of couples are infertile is due as much to better medical care and therefore better diagnostic abilities than it is to environmental factors. It's the same thing as rates of autism increasing - just because something is being diagnosed more, doesn't mean the actual number of affected people has increased.

The fact is that plenty of people eat terribly healthy and still get cancer, or have heart attacks, or suffer any number of other maladies. Cutting out processed foods doesn't guarantee fertility or longevity or anything else.

I'm ranting. Short answer: I believe that infertility, like so many other things that complicate life, is part of God's plan.

Just Us said...

I have heard the same thing. My Mom is currently working furiously to cure my fertility problems, since I am one of those who doesn't have any real reason to not get pregnant and carry a baby full term. At least that is how it appears.

Any way, one of the things that she is always harping on is getting rid of all of the "chemicals". I now drink filtered water, eat organic as often as I can afford it, and avoid "Hamburger Helper"! Still no baby. I think food can have a role in it, but genetics still has an even bigger role in it. Why else is it that one woman eats hamburger helper and it affects fertility, and another woman eats hamburger helper, plus twinkies, plus chef boyardee, and has had ten kids? It's part of the body that we were given.

I think it all has to do with each of us having our own bag of problems, and some of us get the delights of a body that is infertile, in our bag.

Rachel said...

I think it's a load of crap. Working in a social services, I see a lot of people who subsist primarily on Mountain Dew and Doritos producing babies in rapid succession.

Ashley said...

Know why 25% of couples are infertile? Because people are having babies later in life than they were when our grandparents were breeding.

A friend of mine eats beautifully healthful foods. Her mother ate beautifully healthful and all natural things as well. I'm sure her grandmother did the same thing.

Yeah, she's been trying for three years now to have a baby. No dice.

If you have PCOS, yes your diet changes things. But in general, it's a load.

In my humble opinion.

Ashley said...

One more rant:

Yes, three generations ago, people didn't eat processed foods. They also bred like rabbits.

People also died at the ripe old age of 50.

Infertility wasn't something that was studied or talked about back then so there could have been just as many infertile people then as there are now; we just don't know.

Liz Smith said...

no i don't think you overreacted. It sounds like you lead a pretty normal and healthy lifestyle and that person should really watch what she says and not talk about something she doesn't know anything about. Unless she's a doctor or someone dealing with the issue, not just running her mouth off, she should keep her opinions to herself.

Having said all that, i will say that i agree that our fast food nation is quickly deteriorating. I am positive that eating unhealthy contributes to infertility, however, you could say that about ANY health, heart problems, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, depression, low self esteem, the list goes on and on. So if the argument is junk food causes health problems, the answer is yes. However, if the argument is, the ONLY reason you can't have kids is because you indulge in mcdonalds breakfast 4 times a month, then that's just silly.

i agree with you. i think Heavenly Father does have a special plan for you and your family. I know that Joci was indeed meant to be with you guys. He knows what he's doing. :)

Alicia said...

All I can say about this topic is that inadequate nutrition during pregnancy is one of the main factors why there are so many birth defects and abnormalities in third world countries.

But I don't think that the American diet is creating infertile people. I think they would have to prove that with some serious scientific studies before you ever have to feel like 3 generations of bad food choices led to your fertility problems.

Groff Family said...

Whatever. These are the same types of questions I would ask over and over every time I miscarried...what did I do that caused this? Guess what? I did nothing. It still doesn't mean I don't wonder or let it get under my skin when someone suggests something like that. I had a good friend once tell me that if I cut out all dairy I would be able to carry to term. Well, I know have carried 3 babies to term and have never given up dairy, so BUNK!

Not to mention, there are crack addicts living on the streets who manage to get preggo and carry to term who subsist on nothing but drugs and cigarettes. Women who are starving in 3rd world countries also manage to get preggo and carry to term.

It's so easy to take offense and get defensive, especially when it seems like someone is putting the blame on you (don't we do that enough ourselves?). In situations like these I try to just pity the person asking me for their ignorance and get a good kick out of it instead. Not always easy though. Most people truly are just trying to engage in conversation. They have no idea the inner turmoil that you have gone through and the years of self-questioning that you have faced. It's hard to remember that though when those moments arise. Most people are well intentioned, just ignorant.

Plus, if it really had something to do with your diet, your 2 sisters would have the same issues since we are all products of the same upbringing/diet and more than likely the same diet choices now. If anything were proven, you would know, the doctors would know, and the world would know. Just like no one knows why my body seems to love to miscarry.

Hays Family said...

I have often wondered if your infertility and that of my younger sister is not the food that you eat or ate, but because your mother and her mother were older when you and she were conceived (old eggs). My mom was 45 when she had her last baby and I was 39 when you were born. I haven't taken time to read up on this but still have thought the thoughts.

If your infertility is my fault, I just want to say I am so glad you are my daughter even though you have to bear this hardship. (I could have quit at 4 children and never known what I would have missed in you. So I feel extremely fortunate to have you in our family.) I love how you have pursued adoption and we all can benefit from your beautiful Jocelyn. You are right. God has a plan for each of us and we are all given handicaps or disabilities of one kind or another to deal with while on this Earth.

After we do all that we can do to remedy a problem then we accept it, move on, and count all of our other blessings. I feel that is what you have done.

Beckie said...

I've heard soy -- soy is an issue and its in alot of food-- but I don't buy it all the way -- i tried a non-soy diet-- and still couldn't get prego on my own? So gofigure-- I think everyone's bodies are different-- and we just deal with it-- be healthy -- and go on with life-- and yes I think it is weird for someone to bring up that topic?


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