An Altrui egg donor explains why she can’t let anyone know she’s donating eggs
For Asian women there are clear cultural attitudes about being fertile and having children, with a correspondingly large stigma attached to being infertile. It is automatically assumed that a couple will have children, which is a major milestone in any marriage, and it becomes of common interest, inviting talk and questions in the community, with nowhere to hide for the women who cannot conceive.
Children are seen as security and insurance for old age, as they are expected to look after older family members. The general attitude is that there is no point in getting married if a couple cannot conceive. Even professional qualifications are seen merely as a means to help attract a husband. They are perceived as elevating a woman’s status to make her a more attractive prospect with whom to have children.
Many questions, which can be pointed and inappropriate, directly address the issue of creating a family; “When are you going to have children?” or, even more directly, “Isn’t it time that you got pregnant?” Answers to these questions are of interest to the community, irrespective of a couple’s personal feelings or biological facts about their ability to conceive. Conception becomes not just a personal and private situation but seemingly a community’s right to know what a couple intend doing about having children.
Infertility is met with silence, and no one is supposed to know about it, or tell anyone – so it becomes a ‘dirty little secret’. No one is to know that a couple want children yet have failed, so infertility is not discussed. It is isolating for those who are infertile.
Causes of infertility are completely bypassed; the only requirement being that the situation is resolved for all concerned as quickly as possible. The whole point of life is to get married and have children. Even should someone have a major illness or accident in which it is commonly known that the consequence is infertility, it is immaterial and almost irrelevant – they are still expected to have children. If they somehow do manage to have children, no one asks how they did eventually get pregnant, the fact that they did is all that matters.
Talking to an Altrui egg donor who has a Pakistani heritage, her feelings about becoming an egg donor are tied up in the cultural attitude in which there is a significant stigma attached to egg donation. She is aware enough of this to be unable to tell anyone that she is doing this, including her immediate family which is a huge shame.
Infertility is ostracising, it is considered to be a woman’s fault, she does not belong and is not accepted as part of the community, she is seen as an oddity … and it is women themselves who perpetuate this attitude and it is women who have to change it.
This donor is sensitive enough to know the anguish that infertility for Asian women causes as she has seen it first-hand. She can’t discuss it, nor say what she’s doing to help someone else but she’s enlightened enough to get up and do something.
To find out more about the difference that egg donation makes and how to become an egg donor go to www.altrui.co.uk