When you think of infertility, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Images of sad mothers whose bodies are not functioning properly immediately come to my mind. No matter when the issue happens, it always seems to be, in part at least, the motherâ€™s fault. We imagine her reproductive parts are not in tact, or her body is not working adequately if it hasn’t failed her completely.
No one wants to think that it can happen to them. We always want to imagine that infertility, loss and birth defects are something that happens to other people. People that we donâ€™t know. People who live someplace else, do something else, are someone else/anyone else but they are not us. This is what I thought, too.
A recent study done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that certain jobs held by men, in the months before they conceive a child, might increase the risk of birth defects in their children.
Researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 14,000 fathers and then classified their jobs into 63 groups based on the fatherâ€™s estimated exposure to chemicals or other potential hazards. The result was that the study found a link between these jobs and more than 60 different birth defects found in their children.
When something goes wrong with the reproduction process, as mothers, we feel responsible. We assume that there is something wrong with us. But that might not be the case, at all.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I worked in a pharmacy directly handling prescription strength drugs. No, pharmacists and pharmacy techs are not required to wear gloves when handling your prescriptions. Due to possible birth defects and fertility issues, when I became pregnant, I chose to wear gloves immediately.
In the end, I quit my job because I was so afraid that I would accidentally handle a drug that would cause a birth defect and I just couldnâ€™t handle the stress of the possibility. In case you are wondering, this was in no way an overreaction, there are a variety of drugs that, when handled directly, can be absorbed into the skin and cause lasting damage to an unborn fetus.
Was my husband ever concerned about his job affecting our pregnancy? No, why would he be? Itâ€™s not like he works with asbestos or chemicals and would carry them home to our child.
When you think of the father being a threat, you think of the obvious dangers. You think of chemicals, hazardous waste and airborne dangers that could be carried in on clothes. Who would consider that maybe their husbandâ€™s exposure to certain things may make it impossible for you to conceive in the first place or cause a birth defect that creates a spontaneous abortion?
Maybe you do get to carry the baby to term only to find out that they have a birth defect caused by your husbandâ€™s exposure to a chemical he encounters everyday at work. I never considered that my husbandâ€™s job could be cause for infertility, miscarriage and birth defects. Did you?
In light of this study, do you think this will affect who women choose to marry and have a family with?
Photo Credit: Molly Darling