Everyone who wants a child just needs to have sex, right? Wrong.
A chronic condition can impact many different areas of your life, including family planning. From timelines to genetics, medical conditions can make family planning confusing, overwhelming, and stressful.
If you’re struggling with family planning due to a medical condition, know that you’re not alone. We reached out to the Alike community and asked if anyone was struggling with the thought of family planning. We got 334 comments! This number speaks to the vast need for more discussions and support around family planning for those with chronic conditions.
Family Planning and Chronic Conditions
Thinking about having kids should be fun, right? Unfortunately, this process is stressful and complicated for many people. Making the decision to have kids is an enormous one and it’s made even more complex for those with difficult medical situations.
There are a variety of factors that can influence someone’s ability or desire to have children.
Some medications have the possibility of significantly impacting fertility. If you’ve had to choose between a lifesaving medication and your fertility, then you understand just how complicated chronic conditions can make family planning.
For example, research has shown that chemotherapy can significantly reduce an individual’s fertility. Some individuals choose to proactively preserve the cells they need to have children later on. While this can be a good alternative, it still can create financial and emotional struggles.
Choosing between symptom relief and the potential to have children can be traumatic. Chronic conditions present unique problems that those without complicated medical situations can’t understand.
Chronic conditions with a genetic component can raise important questions about having children and possibly passing down your medical situation.
Genetics are a fact of life. However, there are some possibilities that can be explored. Learning about these options can be important, as they can provide some reassurance and a sense of control. For example, if a genetic condition only affects half of a woman’s eggs, IVF could be utilized to select and fertilize an egg with a healthy genetic profile.
Finding an effective medical solution can be a relief, but sometimes it requires significant family planning adjustments. Organ transplants can offer a sense of hope and a renewed appreciation for life, but they also have the potential to reduce biological reproductive options.
For many, sex is an opportunity to grow your family and have an intimate connection. However, chronic conditions can complicate sexual interactions. Sex doesn’t always have to be part of family planning, but it can play a crucial role.
Even if an individual can have children biologically, chronic conditions can severely lower sex drive, making it difficult to get in the right mood. Emotional complications coupled with the biological effects of chronic conditions can make sex feel impossible at times. Here you can read our latest piece on how chronic condition affects sex.
If you have a chronic condition, you likely understand how much more there is to learn about so many medical realities. The cause of every condition isn’t known, meaning that some diagnoses could have a genetic component that hasn’t yet been confirmed. This lack of reliable information can make it difficult to be confident in your family planning decisions.
Another type of unknown, the future, can make family planning feel incredibly overwhelming. For many individuals with chronic conditions, planning the future can be difficult. It’s rarely possible to know what someone’s health situation will look like in five or ten years, so taking on the responsibility of children can seem challenging.
Family planning has the potential for both positive and negative mental health benefits. In addition, chronic conditions can present a large amount of stress. If you’re considering starting a family, think about ways to account for your mental health. Making sure you have support is essential, so you can be the best version of yourself during the family planning process.
Family Planning Options
A chronic condition shouldn’t disqualify you from having children. Instead, it can mean that family planning requires a higher level of research and thought. Let’s review some options that can be considered if you have a complicated health situation.
As was mentioned previously, IVF can be an incredible family planning option. IVF optimizes an individual’s fertility and controls a variety of factors to increase an individual’s chances of getting pregnant.
IVF can be expensive, but it’s sometimes covered by insurance. If you’re considering IVF, consider speaking with a fertility specialist about your options.
Adoption can be an incredible option. It provides a variety of possibilities and can eliminate concerns about genetics. Before beginning the adoption process, consider doing some research to learn about the emotional impacts it can have. Adoption can be complicated, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.
Not Having Children
Even without children, life can still be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. If you don’t want children but are struggling with societal norms, know that you’re not the only one who’s feeling that way.
Making the decision to have (or not to have) children can be complex, as there are so many different factors to consider. Speaking with a mental health therapist can be a great way to unpack some of your feelings about starting a family and your chronic condition. Working with a mental health professional will allow for increased support and insight into your own thoughts and feelings.
If you have a chronic illness and are starting the family planning process, consider thinking about important areas in your life that provide you with support.
Reaching out to friends and family can be a great way to remember that you’re not alone. Another way to get support is by talking to others who are going through similar situations. At Alike, we connect individuals with chronic conditions and have created a thriving online community.
Download our app today and start talking with people in similar situations. Chronic conditions can feel isolating, but we’re on a mission to revolutionize patient options through increased communication and beneficial relationships. Don’t wait to connect with others and get valuable support through our intentional community.