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I don't want biological children, but I tested my fertility hormones anyway. Here's why.

5 min read

Fertility could be top of mind or on the back burner for now — but it has the power to impact everything. We’re sharing your stories to both celebrate and create space for the many ways we  navigate our careers, relationships, and finances in relation to our reproductive health. If you have a story to share, get in touch.

Marketing strategist and entrepreneur Dannie Fountain used clinical tests and research to piece together her medical history. Now, she has enough information about her body that she’s positive that she doesn’t want to have biological children.

In the same way that I have to come out as a queer woman, I also have to come out as a woman who doesn't want biological kids. I’ve always wanted children, but I came to the very firm decision that I didn’t want biological children when I was 19. After lots of testing and research, I discovered that I have a breast cancer genetic mutation and low anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels.

My medical history, coupled with the fact that I’m dating a transgender man, influenced my decision to not have biological children. Even so, my reproductive health still plays a really important role in my life. Just because I’m not having biological children doesn’t mean I’m going through menopause tomorrow — I still have 20-25 years of women’s health factors that impact my weight, physical health, and mental health.

My family presented a perfect nuclear front, but it was very broken on the inside. Up until I was 16 years old, I lived with my birth mother, her husband, and three siblings. I thought they were all biologically related to me. I was kicked out of my house after a very explosive day my senior year of high school and Child Protective Services swooped in. The court appointed a guardian ad litem, who was a registered foster parent, and she ended up adopting me. My biological mom doesn't have a good relationship with her biological family, so I didn’t have full access to my medical history. I started doing genetic testing to fill in the pieces that had been taken away from me and build my own medical history. For example, I discovered that I have a condition that only Latina women can have, which led me to discover the person who was my biological father.

Amongst all of the testing, I discovered that I have a breast cancer gene (BRCA) mutation, which didn’t surprise me. My birth mother has had breast cancer twice. Once I realized that I had all of these health issues, I had a very frank conversation with my OB-GYN where I asked about sterilization. I remember saying, “Yes, I recognize that I’m only 19, but because of my situation, I'm more mature than my age reflects. I can confirm that I don't want to have biological children. What are my options?” My OB-GYN told me that I was too young and that we could have the conversation again in 10 years. I went through a couple more OB-GYNs thinking that the answer would be different, but I kept getting the same answer.

When I was 24, I took my first Modern Fertility test because I wanted to better understand my reproductive health. I thought that if I found out that my hormone levels were abnormal, I could use the data to spark a conversation with an OB-GYN about having a hysterectomy or endometrial ablation — which I believe is my personal choice. Because of my family’s health issues, I had a feeling that my hormone levels would be outside the normal range. My birth mother had trouble getting pregnant, complicated pregnancies, has the BRCA gene mutation and breast cancer, plus she had to have two gastric-bypass surgeries.

When I got my results back, it showed that my AMH levels were on par with what’s average for a woman in her 40s. I took my results to my OB-GYN and, finally, after all the years of being told I was too young, she said, “Let’s do a test in a year to confirm that your AMH levels are declining. If they are, then we will do the surgery.” I took the test again recently and am planning to chat about my results with my OB-GYN at my next appointment in a few months.

My entire friend group is buying houses, already married, or in the process of getting pregnant. (The average age of my friends is a decade older than I am — around 35.) My partner is also in his twenties. He and I are the only couple in my friend group that isn’t married. It's fascinating to bear witness to conversations about fertility with women who are 10 years older than I am, but who have less knowledge about their own medical history than I do because of my situation. There’s enough variety in how my friends approach having children that they aren’t judging my decisions, but among my coworkers, there’s a lot of judgment. They don’t understand why I would choose not to have biological children.

My partner always thought that the person he was with would have a biological child, even if he couldn’t be biologically involved. We didn’t end up talking about children until about six months ago, when we had a transformative conversation. We discussed our entire future all at once, like how we were going to handle our finances and how long we wanted to wait before getting married. That’s when adoption came up, and he had no problem with it. Over the first year of our relationship, he got very socialized to my background, my abuse, my trauma, and my adoption story, so he knew that those were factors in my decision to adopt. He assumed that I wanted to adopt a newborn until I gave him my speech about the broken foster care system. The more we talked about it, the more he realized that adopting an older child was really important to me.

Getting informed about my body helped me worry less about my future. Having answers means that I can take that precious headspace and put it elsewhere — toward my career, or my relationship. I’m not losing any more sleep about my fertility or reproductive health, and that feels powerful.

Personal essay by Dannie Fountain, edited by Sarah duRivage-Jacobs

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