I am 34, in post-menopause, and infertile.
Yet, I now feel like a woman more than ever before.
I grew up loving men’s company. Men are just so easy to get along with. They don’t overcomplicate things, they stay away from difficult conversations, or so I thought. And most of all, I didn’t feel like I had to compete with men. I often felt that slight unease around women and their staring looks, trying to scan me from top to bottom to classify me as a potential friend or an enemy.
I assume that growing up in a small town did not help with that either. But why do women often grow up feeling disconnected from one another—as if there is not enough space on earth for all of us to thrive? How come we feel like we are constantly competing against one another instead of supporting each other? Whatever the reasons—societal, educational, or instinctual, the truth is that it does happen.
But infertility changed that for me. Infertility healed my relationship with other women.
When I just turned 32, only six months before my wedding, I was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), also known as premature menopause, which came as a total shock. I had no idea women could enter menopause so early. Later, I learned that POI affects one percent of women under 40 and zero point one percent of women under 30, and that is a lot of women.
Most women affected by POI cannot undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment unless they are provided with eggs from a donor. And even then, so many things have to go right to finally be able to birth a healthy baby. A small percentage (about five percent) get pregnant naturally, proving, once again, that nature is unpredictable and that miracles do happen.
Infertility was a tough diagnosis to handle, especially growing up with the false idea that IVF can fix it all. But it cannot and does not fix it all. When the doctor called me with the news, I felt as if a big, black hole had just opened on the earth below me. Right there and then, there was something I could not control anymore. My long-term dream of experiencing pregnancy, caring for a baby, and having a big loving family—as I had always imagined it—shattered.
Uncontrollable sadness took over me and for a while, I was unable to give energy to anything else I had been focusing on until then. My career and social life were put second place. I made self-care and rest a priority. I went into energy-saving mode. My masculine side—the achiever and the controller was put on shut down. The energy to perform, achieve, and strive was just not there anymore. I could no longer be that woman.
I needed to soften, to listen, to surrender, and to surround myself with the gentle feminine energy. I needed to reclaim my womanhood. I felt the need to reach out to women and ask them for their support. Infertility can feel lonely and isolating, but for me, it’s what opened the doors to genuinely connecting with other women. It allowed me to soften into my gentle, receiving, feminine energy. I discovered the importance of asking for help and realized how much wisdom women hold in their bodies and life experiences.
What I had avoided until then became what was nurturing me the most. Connecting to other women and to my own feminine energy was the foundation of my healing journey.
If, as a woman, you feel alone in your experience, reach out, open up to other women, soften, and look for support.
You are so not alone; I see you.