My definition of health would be the overall well being of body and mind. Homeostasis is maintained in a healthy person. They are free from disease both mentally and physically. Illness is when the homeostasis of the body is interrupted. In my past I’ve used illness to describe more of a short term condition, rather than a chronic disease. Illness would be any physical or mental condition that impacts the well being of the body. I have gathered these definitions from friends and family, media and my own hands on experience in healthcare.

Based on my criteria I would have to say infertility would not be classified as an illness. To my understanding infertility wouldn’t impact the ability to live a full life and the homeostasis of the body would be relatively uninterrupted. After reading the material for this week I would have to say my past understanding of illness would be wrong. Infertility not is a physical condition but can have a mental effect as well. The class definition of illness includes human experience/perceptions and cultural context, which could both be affected by infertility. Therefore, I would have to consider infertility an illness.

I classified anxiety as an illness because there can be very extreme debilitating conditions of anxiety. These conditions can really affect the human experience. I do believe that we all experience some form of anxiety in our lives but the inability to properly and effectively cope and tackle the anxiety is where the illness lies.

To me illness is becoming a broader term, the only two form the list I had trouble classifying as an illness were shyness and menstruation. I didn’t classify them as an illness because of the number of people that experience shyness and menstruation almost make it a social norm. However I’m sure there are cases of menstruation and shyness where the “conditions” are debilitating in some way, whether that be short term or chronic that might justify for classification of an illness. I may have to broad of a classification but adding the human experience and social/cultural context really opens up for a lot of discussion.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. perezpam says:

    I found it pretty interesting that you wouldn’t classify infertility as a form of illness. In many cultures, a woman or man being infertile is an immediate sign of their inability to live successfully or be of any use. Even within Western culture, a lot of people believe that having children is the whole reason of life. To reproduce is the equivalency of furthering the human population. Though I do not exactly agree with that idea, it’s incredible how common it is, especially around the people I know. I read an article that took data from African populations which ended up showing that women with infertility were far more prone to psychological distress and according to the study, ” In developing countries, socio-cultural factors…aggravate… distress.” The paper also mentions that in western culture, fertility is a sign of womanhood and infertility has been largely stigmatized. I feel that if you can classify anxiety as an illness, then infertility can find its place as well since women who are infertile can indeed fall into deep anxiety and/or depression. I, say 80% of the women or men in the world were suddenly to become infertile, then the concept of homeostasis would be completely destroyed.
    I really liked how you thought of menstruation and shyness as a “social norm,” it definitely makes sense and I liked the way you worded it.

    Omoaregba, Joyce, Bawo James, Ambrose Lawani, Olufemi Morakinyo, and Osasu Olotu. 2011. Psychosocial characteristics of female infertility in a tertiary health institution in nigeria. Annals of African Medicine 10, (1) (03): 19-24, (accessed July 2, 2014).

  2. Alexis Rife says:

    Infertility affects people worldwide, but fertility throughout Europe is currently much lower than the rate necessary for a stable population. This as much for socio-economic reasons as for medical reasons. Women are going farther in their careers and putting their careers first; they like to have stability before starting a family. Also, fertility decreases with age, so fewer children are being born to mothers at a later age. The prevalence of infertility in Europe is stable at about 10% to 12% and overall fertility is below 1.5 children. Currently the main causes of infertility are complications due to STDs and repeat abortions.

    Infertility healthcare is readily available to almost everyone, including medical investigations and diagnoses of a couple’s infertility. Infertility treatments have also greatly increased over recent years, especially for in vitro conception. One in six couples in Europe is affected by unwanted childlessness. It is pitiable, but not hopeless. Many couples solve this problem with in vitro conception or couples with low fertility may take a fertility medication. An individual’s lifestyle, like smoking or excessive drinking, may also decrease his/her fertility. It is believed that infertility is a disability and that infertility research is a highly profitable investment for society and the individual.

    Botev, Nikolai. “Is Europe Trapped In/By Low Fertility?.” Entre Nous, 2006, 4-7. Accessed July 6, 2014.

    Nygren, Karl G. “Current Trends of Fertility – And Infertility-in Europe.” Entre Nous, 2006, 10-11. Accessed July 6, 2014.

    Kohler, Hans-Peter. “The Determinants of Low Fertility in Europe.” Entre Nous, 2006, 12-13. Accessed July 6, 2014.

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