What can be done to change the negative, gendered language used by medical professionals that continues to imply female failure and inadequacy?
It takes two sexes to make a baby, so why when we talk about infertility is the conversation always focused on the female?
In a clinical context, a culture of blame is perpetuated by gendered language centring on “geriatric” mothers, “inhospitable” wombs or “incompetent” cervixes.
Men account for half of the fertility equation – exactly the same number of cases as attributed to women – so as ever-increasing numbers of us engage in fertility treatment, there is an urgent need to reshape medical terminology, which can leave patients, who are already in a delicate emotional state, feeling absolutely crushed.
“We have to remember that until recently infertility wasn’t something that people ever discussed openly,” explains leading gynaecologist and fertility expert Dr Larisa Corda. “The whole subject has been steeped in stigma and taboo for generations, and this continues to plague the topic.”
This gendered language is such a problem, she adds, because there is something so personal in admitting that you’re struggling to get pregnant. “It makes you vulnerable in a place that threatens your very sense of identity as a woman,” she says.
Corda points to the fact that roughly one in seven couples will find themselves struggling on their fertility journey, a figure which is only set to rise as “we continue to evolve past the point where our biological clocks are able to keep up”.