You did your readers a disservice by giving the impression that if infertile couples would "just relax" they could conceive. This might work for the lucky few, but it does not work for the rest of us.
There are over 6 million women who are currently seeking advice, diagnosis and treatment for infertility. Technology is getting better every day, and some couples are finally achieving their dream of becoming parents, but the cost is high, and yes, it is stressful. But please get it right, Ann. Infertility causes stress, not the other way around.
You are right. The wet noodle comes out of semi-retirement. Keep reading for more clobbering. It was richly deserved:
From Seattle: I am a 29-year-old woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome. No amount of relaxing will help me get pregnant. I have a hormonal imbalance, which means I can't ovulate. I resent being told to relax. I have suffered many insensitive comments from parents who think they know everything about pregnancy. Your column gave them more ammunition. For most unfortunate women (and men), infertility is a medical condition, not an emotional problem.
Anywhere, USA: I was insulted by your column on infertility. The reason I was unable to conceive is because my ovaries were encased in endometrial tissue. Relaxing could not help me.
Anonymous in Michigan: I was stunned by your advice to "relax" in order to get pregnant. I agree that some relaxing might help, but for most of us, it won't make any difference. My husband was born with a chromosome disorder, and he produces no sperm. We will have to use donor sperm to conceive. Please be aware that most infertile couples need medical assistance.
Houston: I was thrilled that you could come up with five letters from people who succeeded in getting pregnant by relaxing. However, most of those examples came from couples who had been told they were infertile 20 or 30 years ago. I suspect those people were simply misdiagnosed. This sort of "evidence" does not impress me.
I have a hormonal imbalance that prevents me from ovulating, and this condition is quite common in women of child-bearing age. After 18 months of treatment with a specialist, I am now pregnant with the help of medical technology and fertility drugs. For most infertile couples, insurance covers little or none of the expense of treatment. Your column will not help correct that.
Minneapolis: Someone should tell my fallopian tubes that all I need to do is relax to get pregnant. I have suffered through three painful ectopic pregnancies in the last four years, which could hardly be considered relaxing. My final option for pregnancy is in-vitro fertilization, an expensive and daunting process, with no guarantee of success. It's depressing.
New York: One of your readers wondered what the statistic was for women who became pregnant after adopting. I can tell her--less than 10 percent. Stress does not cause blocked fallopian tubes, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis or a low sperm count.
San Diego: When you printed one letter about someone who became pregnant after adopting, I expected you would hear from others who had a similar experience. No one is going to write out of the blue and say, "Dear Ann: I just adopted a baby, and I'm not pregnant yet. How come?" A lot of infertile couples will be angry with you, but I'm glad you printed that column on infertility and relaxing. Now, you will hear from the rest of us.
To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.