When I was a teenager, I was told that if you let a boy near you, you’d get pregnant within five minutes. Ok, this is a slight exaggeration. Still, the impression was you that if you that if you had sex and you’d conceive easily. When I think back to when my husband and I first started trying, I thought we’d get pregnant right away. I now laugh myself silly about this. What’s simultaneously sad and comforting is that those diagnosed with infertility are laughing along with me.

One in eight deal with infertility. When you have this medical condition, it can make you a little cray-cray (as the cool kids say). Putting aside for a moment that you are often taking hormone injections which would make even Gandhi hostile; fertility issues can strain your mental state, your relationships, and your bank account (as IVF is often not covered by insurance and is NOT cheap). What’s most daunting is you have no way of knowing if you’re ever going to have a family. I say all this to explain why you become a little desperate at times. I know I did. This is why I started my blog back in the day. To try and connect with others in the community, cope and stay sane.

When I heard that cough syrup could make your cervical mucus more “sperm friendly”, you could find me (and my trying-to-conceive sisters) at the grocery store in line buying Mucinex with ovulation prediction kits. On infertility chat boards, there might be chatter that eating Brazil nuts were the key to improving your egg quality. You’d immediately buy a bag of Brazil nuts that you’d snack on while watching the 1985 film Brazil after having a Brazilian wax. And then… cue the dramatic music… there is the one that everyone knows, that if you eat pineapple core after an IVF embryo transfer, it can help with implantation.

The theory is that pineapple (especially the core) contains something called bromelain.  Bromelain is an enzyme that helps us break down and digest our food. When taken on an empty stomach, bromelain can act as a blood thinner and an anti-inflammatory, and all of this may help an embryo implant into the uterus.

First, is this pineapple theory even true or accurate? The jury is very much out. In all of my years of being a patient and infertility advocate, I’ve never heard a doctor yell, “GET HER A PINEAPPLE STAT!” What I’d really wish is a doctor would yell, “SHE NEEDS AN IV OF A PINA COLADA IMMEDIATELY!” but that hasn’t happened either.

That being said, why, out of everything, is the pineapple the symbol of trying to conceive and infertility? It’s everywhere on infertility chat boards, fertility memes and IVF Instagram accounts. Even the amazing folks at IVF Babble have even made the pineapple a symbol of being a proud womb warrior who kicks ass as they struggle to get knocked up!

When CooperGenomics asked me what I think about the pineapple being the symbol of the TTC/infertility world, I was thrilled they asked! I answered that I think we need to go further with it. I’m reminds me of two quotes I know about the pineapple. They are:

  • A pineapple has pointy defenses, but it’s still sweet.
  • Be a pineapple: Stand tall, wear a crown, and be sweet on the inside.

One of the things people say to you when you go through IVF, pregnancy loss, or sensitive matters surrounding infertility is “you’re so strong”. What people don’t realize is we don’t have a choice. Truly.

Yes, many in the community are, as mentioned earlier, “womb warriors”, but that’s because their desire to be a parent is so incredibly strong. That right there is a pineapple. We have a tough exterior to get through the hormone injections, the vaginal sonograms, the egg retrievals, the heartbreak of failed cycles, and the losses. On the inside however, the longing to be a parent, the sweetness and love to be a mom or dad is there. We should not be ashamed of that. We should be proud and wear that like a crown.

Infertility is a medical diagnosis, not a commentary on who we are as a person.

There’s another quote I love, and it is, “Parenthood requires love, not DNA.” All of our outcomes may be different. IUI, IVF, donor sperm, donor eggs, adoption, surrogacy, childfree resolution, etc. Wherever you are in your family building journey (or roller-coaster), I’m all for a pineapple being a symbol for this community because:

A) We are all royalty

B) We are strong

C) We all deserve a piña colada.

Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo

Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a freelance writer, public speaker, infertility rights advocate, former stand-up comic, author of the blog, ‘The 2 Week Wait’, and proud IVF Mom. As an Infertility Subject Matter Expert as well as Spokesperson and Blogger, she has been spoken at several conferences (CCW, New England Resolve, etc.), and been interviewed on news outlets such as CNN, NPR and BBC where she has demonstrated her ability to make even reproductive issues fun and educational. Her articles have been featured on the Huffington Post, Time Magazine, ScaryMommy (to name just a few), and volunteers for various organizations including Resolve, the National Infertility Association the GMHC and Gilda’s Club.