It only makes sense that I would see infertility patients that have suffered from a sexual assault. With current population estimates, one out of every 5 infertility patients has been affected, on average.
For a patient struggling to become pregnant, a rape of the past may continue to assault them in the present, even though they may be in a loving relationship now. Pelvic pain, lack of sexual desire, and anxiety may thwart their attempts at sexual intimacy. Misplaced guilt, for being in a compromising position in the past, may haunt them still. And for some, a sexually transmitted disease or unintentional pregnancy (or termination of pregnancy) may have resulted from the rape.
It is essential to recognize the effect that rape may have had on an infertile couple to treat a patient appropriately. Helping patients get the knowledge and skill to work through any issues that arise from this experience is our goal here at RSC Bay.
If you think you may have been sexually assaulted but aren’t quite sure, here is a definition for you,
“Sexual assault is a crime of violence and aggression, and encompasses a continuum of sexual activity that ranges from sexual coercion to contact abuse (unwanted kissing, touching, or fondling) to rape.”
The FBI now has a new definition of rape that recognizes that victims and perpetrators may be female or male, and includes oral and anal penetration, as well as penetration with an object. Physical force is no longer a necessary part of the definition as patients that are coerced or intoxicated or mentally or physically incapable to consent can be raped.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reveal that an estimated 1.3 million rape-related physical assaults occur against women annually.
- 18 percent of women report to having been victims of rape or attempted rape
- 80 percent of the time this happens before the age of 25
- 51 percent reported that at least one perpetrator was a current or former intimate partner
The loss of control that happens after a rape assault can lead to a rape-trauma syndrome. The early or acute phase consists of physical symptoms like generalized pain and sleep disorders and emotional symptoms like fear, guilt, anxiety, and mood swings. The delayed phase can include flashbacks and phobias as well as physical pain symptoms. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can result and alcohol or drug abuse can occur as a woman attempts to cope with the assault.
If you or someone you know had suffered from sexual assault, please seek help. We are here to talk to and to assist in getting you the care and compassion you deserve.
Dr. Mary Hinckley is a leading reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at the Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. She has extensively published articles in peer-reviewed journals on blastocyst transfer, avoiding triplet pregnancies, monozygotic twinning, operative hysteroscopy, correction of uterine anomalies, and biochemical pathways involved in ovulation and fertilization. She serves as a member of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Society and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Her areas of interest include laparoscopic surgery, premature ovarian failure, oocyte freezing, and recurrent pregnancy loss. Dr. Hinckley offers infertility education on YouTube.