Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fertility-Challenged Psychosis

Let's talk about this, shall we?

There is a dirty little secret floating around the fertility-challenged community, and I'm ready to expose it. Yeppers, hard-hitting investigative journalism from my very own blog. Sweet.

So here it is: Infertility can make you crazy.

At the moment, Fertility-Challenged Psychosis (otherwise known as FCP) is not a medically recognized illness, although I am sure it will be some day.

Until then, here's what I know:

Who is at risk?
People at risk for developing FCP are generally those who have been trying to conceive for a prolonged period of time; the risk goes up exponentially with every failed cycle. Women are much more likely to develop FCP, although the reasons for this are not clear at this time.

What are the stages of FCP?
FCP is broken up into three main stages: Mild, Moderate and Severe. Each stage has distinct symptoms or characteristics.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are generally subtle and harmless in the initial stages. Obsessive charting of basal temperatures, rigid intercourse schedules and constant thoughts about baby-making-sex, babies or pregnancy are the first signs that a person is at risk for FCP, or has already begun to develop it. Monthly HPT use is common, as are a number of natural home remedies, vitamins, teas or creams designed to facilitate pregnancy. Occasionally, dietary adjustments or periodic use of cough syrup are also seen. This is considered mild FCP and it does not generally interfere with a person's ability to lead a normal life.

Moderate FCP involves negative thoughts directed towards expectant women or couples, a snarling reaction to clueless well-meaning advice, and a fixation on medical numbers (hormone levels, SA results, follicle counts). It is also at this stage that a person begins to devote a significant amount of their waking thoughts to conception. Often, they will begin daily visits to Dr Google. By this point, their HPT use is becoming somewhat extreme with multiple HPTs per cycle and many will consult Dr Google to find a dealer to better afford their habit. They will begin scrutinizing their peesticks - holding them up to different light sources while standing on their heads and closing one eye, using digital photography to manipulate an image of a peestick or dismantling that peestick to verify the presence or absence of a line, and saving daily sticks to use as a comparison for future sticks. In fact, this is so common that you may hear about someone who is a "pee-on-a-stick addict". This stage has the potential to affect social relationships and can have a mild impact on the person's ability to lead a normal life.

Severe FCP is categorized by obsessive thoughts of babymaking, both during waking hours and in dreams. Mumbling disturbing phrases "relax this, asshole!" or "what do you mean just adopt, you twatwaffle?!" while sleeping is another symptom. They will begin asking others (including strangers) questions like "do my boobs look bigger today?", and may exhibit obvious twitches or tics in a medical setting.* . They engage in debates - sometimes with themselves - that make little sense to the non-fertility-challenged, such as "is oral progesterone comparable to suppositories?" or "frozen or fresh? frozen or fresh? maybe both?". Many people with severe FCP are undergoing treatments that involve daily injections. Do not become alarmed if you suspect your friend with FCP is also a junkie. Chances are what you are seeing is the result of a treatment plan that is supervised by a physician... despite the fact that most fertility-challenged are aware that crack is actually a highly effective fertility enhancer, it is exceedingly rare for one to actually go that route.

It is at this stage where we see random outbursts directed at pregnant women, overly fertile crack 'ho's, and strangers who want to discuss reproductive plans. It goes without saying that severe FCP can have a profound impact on social or familial relationships, and will most likely have at least some affect on normal life.

It is important to note that one symptom is common for all stages:
Obsessive "pregnancy sign interpretation" can appear at any time, but there are clear differences in severity through the stages: casually poking a breast to check for tenderness is mild, punching that same breast while sniffing a noxious odor and cackling gleefully "ha! I've got morning sickness and sore boobies!" is obviously more severe.

How can I tell if I a friend has FCP?
If you suspect you someone you know is suffering from FCP, there are some very simple ways to confirm this. First, search the bathroom for leftover peesticks of any kind. Any more than three is considered at-risk. More than 10, and there is almost definitely a problem. Consult Dr Google's records; this can also be helpful in determining the severity of FCP - if you see terms like "nausea at 7dpo pregnancy?", this is indicative of moderate FCP. Searches for "nausea 1dpo pregnancy?" clearly indicate a more serious case of FCP. In its most extreme stages, you will see things like "voodoo fertility rituals", "how to be crack ho" or "duggar". Pay particular attention to anything referencing the word "blog". This is a sure sign that FCP is present**, although it is also a sign that the person is aware of their illness and actively attempting to combat its debilitating affects. The use of a blog to purge feelings or find a sense of community is one of the few treatments that appears to do anything to lessen the severity of symptoms.

Is there a cure?
Now that you know how to recognize FCP, you are probably thinking What next? As of now, there is no cure. Many people believe that pregnancy, birth or adoption will cure FCP, but this is not true. While any of these may be considered 'treatment' in that they can generally counteract the more extreme symptoms, there will always be some remnant left behind as a reminder. FCP causes drastic changes in a person's psychological and emotional makeup, and nothing will erase that permanently. Time, and patience will help.

Coming soon: the answers to the burning question "What can I do if my loved one has FCP?"

*There are two leading theories behind these twitches or tics: some believe they are a result of frustration at the realization that the patient's vast reproductive knowledge is greater than that of most doctors, while others believe it is because many of these patients realize that the cost of their treatments has paid off their physician's car, or in some cases, their physician's house.

**While this is useful as a diagnostic tool, I am obligated to point out that you should never ever attempt to investigate the possibility of that blog's existence. However well-intentioned you may be, if you have not been invited to share in that aspect of a friend's life, it is unethical and immoral to snoop. Unless you are investigating yourself, in which case you're probably allowed.


rachel said...

Fantastic post - really very funny! Also just wanted to say hello as another Rachel also struggling with secondary fertility problems (of a sort) after primary fertility problems.

Good luck!

ellie said...

very funny! I think you may have captured some of my IF quirks. I think you are dang brave for doing clomd- that stuff was terrible for me! No visual issues but my personality we strikingly altered. So glad to be off that stuff.

Good luck to you!

Krista said...

Yup, I've got FCP

Erin said...

That cracked me up, which is a problem since my new faculty "office" is actually a cubicle. Perhaps I should not be reading blogs at work and should get back to writing lectures. Which I would do if I didn't know that I am probably going to ovulate today and am counting how long after I ovulate that we'll get to have sex again, and what if it's too late? Does that count as a FCP? I think I only have 3 or 4 HPTs at home (of course, the sticks for my fertility monitor can be used as HPTs also, so then I've got more like 15).

Kris said...

Hello. My name is Kris. And I have severe FCP.

Although I would like to add a variant symptom, which I have... the variant that causes the FCP sufferer to firmly and unwaveringly believe that peestics are in fact the work of the devil. The mention of peestick causes panic and the disavowing of their very existance.

My Reality said...

This post is hysterical. I saw this post linked on Erin's blog. Great post and you can add me to the stats of people suffering with FCP!

sue said...