Monday, July 19, 2004

One in six

Ah, statistics. Those little facts and figures that are somehow supposed to give meaning to our existence, barometers by which we can measure our role in the universe as compared to others. A number of which to pin hopes of success, or to indicate the chances of failure. Even if those numbers are distorted, or only apply to certain groups of people, or are based on some wonky research methods, isn't it just so reassuring that somebody has thought about it. Yes indeedy, a statistic tells us that somebody has gone out, investigated the situation and is reporting back on where we stand.

There are a lot of statistics relating to infertility, but the one that has stopped me in my tracks way before we even started trying was "one in six". As in an estimated one in six couples will have trouble conceiving. One in six translates into 17% (all you clever clogs out there may know that- I had to look it up. Math is not my forte.)

Now, what does that really mean (apart from imaging yourself as the odd pair out in a room with five pregnant couples)? How do I put that in a bigger context- more to the point, canI put that in context?

A little rummaging on Google reveals this:

* Out of 6,000 US solidiers who fought in Iraq, one in six suffer trauma disorders

* One in six adult Australians cannot read basic medical instructions, according to a United Nations development report launched in Sydney.

* One in six Americans use the wireless internet.

* One in six workers in the U.S. telecommunications industry has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

* One in six High School Seniors admit to driving while high

* One in six UK workers put in more than 48 hours a week

* One in six households in the UK will be powered by windfarms

* One in six adults in the UK have a neurotic disorder

* One in six US prisoners are mentally ill (says Human Rights Watch in their 215 page report)

* One In six Americans is at risk from dangerous chemical accident exposure

So, living in the UK, I'm just as likely to be overworked, neurotic and powered by a windfarm as I am to be infertile?

I think the bottom line is that it shouldn't matter so much what the numbers say. But it's hard to get a fix on where you are, because people don't talk about it- so you never really get a sense of quite how many others around you are out there struggling. We celebrate pregnancy and birth- we hide away miscarriage and barrenness.

To E. and I, it feels like every other couple in Scotland who wants a baby has one (and even some that don't want one). Of course, if that were true, there wouldn't be such a long waiting list for fertility treatment. And maybe the numbers don't lie after all. But does that mean we've become...a statistic?


At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing about statistics and percentages is that when it happens or doesn't happen for you the stats change to 100% or alternately, 6 out 6. I used to take comfort in statistics. I thought my odds were always good for getting one of those five fertile spaces. Now I just think, fuck statistics. They are averages. You, the individual, are the only one that counts, and anything can happen.


At 8:07 AM, Blogger Jen P said...

Hi Barren Mare, I really enjoy your writing. I can't explain why, but that stastic about infertility hit hard. I'm in a smaller country as well, New Zealand, and that sort of statistic can't be right. Our govt funded fertility system is maxed out and there are year long waiting lists to even be seen publically by a fertility doctor. I'm sorry for your need for a journal like this, but I'm glad you're writing it all down...I loved your rhyming slang post!


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