Womanhood should not be defined by motherhood
Why not having a child does not make you less a woman
“People sometimes do not stop to think that their questions may be hurtful. I know people mean well but when you say to a women who can’t have kids ‘how terrible that you miss out of the joy of being a mother’ or ‘you’ll get over it’ or ‘if you only lost a bit of weight’ it is hurtful and insensitive.”
Childlessness is not always a choice but it is funny how many people think it is their business to make judgements.
A recent survey by PCOS Aware found that over 60 percent of respondents battle with infertility…and the daily reminders that they are childless.
Director of PCOS Aware, Danielle Mortimer said whether it is infertility, no partner or other medical reasons, the facts are some women cannot have babies.
“I happen to be one of these women. I am not alone. The survey of almost 1,100 women with polycystic ovary syndrome showed 745 women have had to learn to be stronger in the face of realising they won’t be having a family,” she said.
“Not only dealing with some horrible side effects, knowing you will never be a mother is slap in the face.
A common statement from over one third of the women who took part in the survey was how they wished more people understood the condition and that society would stop focusing on how a woman looked as a yardstick for beauty.
Danielle said coming to terms with PCOS is a challenge, often made harder by the lack of understanding.
“People sometimes do not stop to think that their questions may be hurtful. I know people mean well but when you say to a women who can’t have kids ‘how terrible that you miss out of the joy of being a mother’ or ‘you’ll get over it’ or ‘if you only lost a bit of weight’ is hurtful and insensitive,” she said.
Danielle started PCOS Aware because she wanted to openly share her journey with people who love and other women who hide how they are feeling because of the shame that often accompanies the condition.
“I used to hide my hurt behind the façade of nonchalance especially not being able to have children. I thought if I pretended I did not want to have children, it would not hurt as much,” she said.
“The trouble is so many people remind me that I do by asking when I will have a baby, or why I don’t have a baby or what is wrong, don’t I want children.
“It is hard to be stoic in the face of so many questions because I felt my inability to have children diminished my femininity.”
Danielle said a large number of the women surveyed feel misunderstood and less than a women. “Why do we need to tie motherhood with being a woman? Society seems to inextricably link having a child with being feminine,” she said.
“Not having a child does not make anyone less.
“There are many women who choose not to have a baby. That is their right and does not require people’s judgements.”
PCOS is an insidious syndrome that affects one in 20 Australian women of reproductive age. The symptoms of weight gain, infertility, excess hair growth and skin tags assault a woman’s sense of self-worth, made even worse by the lack of conversations around the impact of PCOS.
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