Why We Need to Talk About Circumstantial Infertility

It’s a cold night on the Upper West Side, and like most New Yorkers, I had a choice of events for the evening. I likely would have skipped them all; which is what happens when you’re spoiled for choice, but something drew me to this big old synagogue. The elevator in the building takes a while to arrive, so I listen to the singing coming from the main sanctuary downstairs and remark to the woman ushering people in that I might prefer to stay and listen to that.

I don’t know, I guess I just feel… well… nervous.

I was making an investment in a topic I’d sometimes thought about but mostly dismissed—pushed to the back of my mind along with retirement savings and lasik surgery. As long as I don’t think about it, don’t research it; don’t talk about, perhaps it’s not really there.

But elephants in the room have a way of growing, and when I finally arrived on the 10th floor thanks to the single ancient creaky elevator, I realized I wasn’t the only one nervously eyeing this particular elephant. Thirty women were already present—by the end of the evening probably closer to 50—and while I was relieved to see a familiar face, I wondered why I wasn’t seeing more.

The speaker took the podium and began.

“In the Orthodox Jewish community, fertility has become a hot topic as many couples marry later in life and struggle to conceive in their 40s. But tonight we are here to talk about another type of infertility—circumstantial infertility.”