By Keiko Zoll
Short answer: not much. Long answer: it’s complicated…
For anyone who has ever experienced infertility, we certainly don’t consider our disease a laughing matter. Our journeys are often fraught with such emotional and even physical pain that sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is even cracking a smile.
And that’s where I argue that sometimes, that’s the very thing we need to do. Sometimes, you almost can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of living with infertility.
For example, when you hear the phrase “It takes two to make a baby,” most infertility patients can get a good chuckle out of this. For some of us, it takes a few more people than just two. There’s the couple, perhaps their gamete donor, maybe a surrogate, and of course their reproductive endocrinologist, their team of nurses and embryologists, their insurance coordinators, and maybe your lawyer, your therapist… the list goes on!
Sometimes we just have to laugh at the long list of well-intentioned “advice” we receive from others who really don’t understand what it’s like to live with infertility. “Just relax,” they say. “Why don’t you go on a vacation? My hairdresser/sister-in-law/coworker/cousin twice-removed did that and they came home pregnant!”
They mean well, they really do. I especially love it when suddenly they start giving you advice on diet, exercise and even sexual positions. “Have you tried…?” they begin, innocently. And then you can slowly start to see their embarrassing realization that they’re giving you advice on what you should do in your own bedroom, and you can see the crimson blush start to spread over their cheeks.
Again, they mean well. And sometimes, you really just have to laugh it off.
Laughter may even help us deal with the physical toll that infertility can take on our bodies. A 2011 study from the University of Oxford confirmed a long-held theory that laughter releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are those “feel-good” chemicals that actually help us to tolerate physical pain more than usual.
It’s true: there’s nothing funny about infertility, but humor absolutely has a place in the infertility experience if only to make coping with it a little easier. If you’re looking for more humorous inspiration in your infertility journey, check out 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility, a blog that highlights the funny, absurd and downright hysterical moments on that long path to parenthood. You can find it at www.999reasonstolaugh.com.