Saturday, June 12, 2010


Jennifer Corado said...
How is infertility viewed in the ATI community? Do couples undergo testing or treatment, or is it viewed as maybe a punishment from God? Does there appear to be more blame (as subtle as it might me) toward the woman? Has it ever caused divorce?

It depends on the couple. We're just now starting to see the second generation of ATI take off. Before this generation, most people who went into ATI had children when they started (it's, after all, a homeschooling curriculum). Now you have those children having children and I think there are some things to consider. Most ATI families marry their girls young. The younger you are, the greater your fertility. This eliminates some of the "worldly" age-based, infertility problems. I've also heard, and I could be ignorant or badly informed, that the more sexual partners you have, the greater your chance of STDS and the greater your risk of infertility as a result. Since ATI kids don't have pre-marital sex or multiple partners, there's less risk of infertility. I'm sure it's happened (an infertile second-generation ATI couple) but they really don't talk about it if it does happen and they can't become ATI or QF unless they have children so that would sway the results. Until a couple has children of their own, they won't be ATI so the question is moot really. If a couple were planning to be ATI and ran into infertility, then they'd likely keep it very private. There's nothing outwardly preventing them from seeking treatment. Adoption won't prevent them from joining ATI after the fact but it might make the application process more difficult. God's plan, in ATI's eyes, is for couples to be fruitful and multiply and accept children as a blessing from the Lord in His perfect timing. A couple might interpret that a number of ways, maybe including that God's timing includes infertility treatments. I think you'd be hardpressed to find an ATI/QF goal oriented couple who would interpret God's will or plan to mean they should stay infertile. It's a contradiction of sorts.

About the blame, that's also something that would depend on the couple or their family. There are certain "sins" to which the infertility would be assuredly blamed on the couple. One would be if they EVER used birth control methods. God would be punishing/testing their will for not trusting Him. It's really hard to answer this question because this stuff is kept so hush-hush when it does happen. We knew people who had secondary infertility, after several children, and the mom blamed herself for breaking the modesty commandments of the Bible. That doesn't mean God was punishing her but it's how she interpreted it.

Vyckie Garrison from NLQ would be a better person to ask about QF/ATI/VF divorce rates. I don't know enough about that.


  1. I ended up leaving a church with a sizable number of QF families because of the way I was treated after my son died due to severe pregnancy complications at 22 weeks. Basically-it was all my fault, I hadn't had enough faith, I shouldn't have gone to the hospital despite blood pressure over 200 diastolic, and I should NEVER have allowed them to deliver a baby prematurely-even to save my life.

    It took me 7 years before I started going to church again-a mainstream, protestant one. It was a little surprising to me to confess my sin of not trusting God in a group and to get the reaction that "You did the right thing!".

  2. Ruth said:

    "I've also heard, and I could be ignorant or badly informed, that the more sexual partners you have, the greater your chance of STDS and the greater your risk of infertility as a result."

    I love you to pieces and want the best for you in all things, but your information is badly twisted, I assume given to you as fact from your mother or some other "caring" ATI/AF woman who "cared." The irony is that first generation KNOWS the truth, they just chose to ignore it.

    The fact is that if you have more partners and THEY have lots of partners and you do not know their sexual history, sure, you can get an STD. I also have a friend who got herpes on her wedding night. Most kids are going to have premarital sex today and if I had a child, I would rather they have safe sex than unprotected sex. I don't want to look up the stats now, but a few recent studies have shown that kids who do the purity ring thing are just as likely to have sex as "heathen" kids and are more likely to do it without protection.

    FWIW, I had maybe 10 partners before I married in my very early 30's. No STD's, but I have had four pregnancies (lost all in the late or early 2nd trimester) between 3 men. I think my story is more reflective of the female population as a whole, save the pregnancies...I'm practically Michelle Duggar!!!!! Wooot!!!!

    My husband married me almost 16 years ago despite not having a hymen and having given pieces of my heart away and we're happily married despite all of my sins.

    I don't mean to denigrate your faith, just the misinformation that can stem from being so isolated within it. Do some googling and realize that AIDS and STDs are rarely passed from female to male, but they try and foist the guilt on us all the same.

    Hope your semester went well. If you have any further questions for me, email me at An address I will be shutting down in about 2 weeks, so go ahead Darth Daddy, spam away. The facts are on my side.

    Not divorced and STD free despite being the Whore of Babylon during my salad days,


  3. I don't think there is any research that supports the theory that people who have premarital sex, or multiple partners, are more likely to struggle with infertility. Infertility in women is most commonly caused by hormone imbalance or "advanced" (past 30) maternal age. Other things that have been linked to infertility are exposure to a wide range of things, most of which those in the ATI/QF movement are unlikely to have come into contact with.. medications and chemicals in food, for example. Personally I was infertile for a 6 month period, with low fertility (4 ovulatory cycles in a year) before that, and after reading a book on fertility and nutrition, began to suspect my daily diet soda and "diet" sweets (anything with artificial sweetener) as the culprit. I completely stopped consuming all artificial sweeteners and ovulated within 3-4 weeks. It *could* be less likely for an ATI/QF couple to struggle with infertility simply because they aren't exposed to many of the things the "average" American is, but I don't think premarital sex is one of them.

  4. Hi Ruth,

    I believe what you are referring to is PID. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease occurs in women and is basically an STD (usually Chlamydia or Gonorrhea) that has gone untreated and caused infection and inflammation in the fallopian tubes. This inflammation can cause scarring in the tubes and be a cause of infertility and increase the chance for ectopic pregnancy.

    Obviously, the chance of contracting an STD increases with the number of partners one has, as well as how compliant a person is with use of protection.

    By the way, I really love your blog!

  5. "I've also heard, and I could be ignorant or badly informed, that the more sexual partners you have, the greater your chance of STDS and the greater your risk of infertility as a result."

    Well, yes, as a strictly factual issue, this is pretty much correct. You're not going to get STDs without having sex, and there are some STDs that can lead to infertility. But lots of people have multiple partners without suffering any STDs, infertility, or other issues. (Like me!) And virgins can be infertile.

  6. "But lots of people have multiple partners without suffering any STDs, infertility, or other issues. (Like me!) And virgins can be infertile."

    This is very true, and to add to it, lots and lots of people suffer from various STD's and go on to have many healthy children.

    In a nutshell, even if you have had multiple partners and/or STD's in the past, as long as you protect yourself (and/or get treatment) then it's very unlikely to affect your fertility.

  7. If ATI is not so adoption-friendly, how to they view Exodus? Most non-ATI people view Moses as an adopted child of the Pharoah's daughter.

  8. I think this is where it's important to separate ATI and QF.

    I am not ATI. But I am QF. We have gone through secondary infertility and two miscarriages. I have no idea how ATI folks would react to me, as I don't know any personally. But I have gotten nothing but love and support from non-ATI families who are QF. I don't feel it's punishment. No one has come even close to blaming us for the miscarriages and I have friends (both first and second generation QF) who have likewise gone through infertility and/or losses and recieved nothing but support and sympathy. If QF means entrusting the "family plan" and number of children to God, and not manipulating or trying to control fertility, then one can indeed be QF with no children.

    I don't doubt that there are some who do say horrible things and use their beliefs as a bludgeon (and shame on them!). Just like there are those who take "faith" (in God or "The Universe") and make it into a burden that is impossible to bear--if you just "claim" something in faith, it's yours, and if you don't get it, you don't have enough faith. Or others who can take any concept and twist it for use and abuse. It's good to depart from such people and shake the dust off your feet as you go. :D It's important though not to let experience with those folks bias your views of everyone who looks like they might have some similarity to them. ;) In my case, I had a negative bias against Assembly of God churches because of severely negative experiences as a teen. Come to find out manipulation, extremely scary spiritual practices, and spiritual abuse are *not* tenets of the AOG statement of faith. But I had to be willing to look past my experiential bias in order to find that out.

  9. Many interesting posts from all the other posters! It's funny that leaving it in god's hands is synonymous with large families. If you don't use birth control and hump like rabbits, and still don't have kids, then maybe that was god's will. Very interesting post, Margaret!

    I agree that fertility is very complicated and the number of partners isn't always tied to infertility. Some people are just less fertile than others (I'm looking at you Michelle!).

    I hope you are having a good summer, Ruth. I'll shoot you an email shortly. Big things are going on with me! I hope you are enjoying the kids!

  10. I'm confused, can people belong to ATI if they don't have children? If they can't than is there an age where the children of ATI members are no longer considered ATI? What about the parents, once all of their children are grown are they kicked out? Does ATI refer only to the homeschooling curriculum or to the entire philosophy promoted by Gothard?

  11. Suze actually has some great insight on this. I'm no expert, but I have a few things to share.

    "The fact is that if you have more partners and THEY have lots of partners and you do not know their sexual history, sure, you can get an STD." - Suze

    This about sums up what I was going to say. What I really want to touch light on, though, is this: your sexual history doesn't affect your fertility. Sure, as a PP mentioned, there is an STD that can cause infertility, but just because you've had a lot of sexual partners doesn't mean that you're likely to become infertile.

  12. I thought this sounded like HPV, where it can lead to cancer, but I don't really know enough about it to comment. All I know is that a woman I used to work with developed cervical cancer and had to have a hysterectomy, so no children for her. I understand that that kind of cancer is caused by HPV, which I think is an STD, but I'm not entirely sure if that's always the case.

  13. Just wanted to comment that although HPV can cause cervical cancer, it is not the cause in all cases. Also, the majority of people who have HPV, which is one of the most common STD's in the US, do not develop cancer. As far as multiple partners causing infertility, I was taught this as well, and it makes sense that the more partners you have the more potential you have to be exposed to an STD that will make you infertile . People who marry and start having children young are also less likely to have as many sexual partners as people who marry later in life, so I can see how less educated people, like those raised on ATI, might surmise that the multiple partners caused the older couples infertility, and not the wife's advanced age which is probably the case since some women's fertility begins to decline as early as their 30's.

  14. woooooooooooooah.

    Firstly. This: "that the more sexual partners you have, the greater your chance of STDS and the greater your risk of infertility as a result."

    You make it seem as if its a direct correlation; many sexual partners automatically means you will be infertile.
    It doesn't matter how many partners you have had throughout your lifetime, its HOW MANY DID YOU USE PROTECTION WITH? And fyi: Condoms are the only proven method of combatting HIV/AIDS and STIs, if you choose to have sex. The pill just protects against pregnancy, not STI's. Not to mention - most STI's are pretty easy to treat. I've had chlamydia twice and a round of antibiotics cleared it right up both times.

    As always, if you choose to be sexually active, you MUST get checked at least yearly by a GYN to screen for STI's and HIV/AIDS. If you get no symptoms and leave it unchecked, it could potentionally develop into PID, as Melissa said.

    Doesn't Bill Gothard teach that children inherit the sins from their parents therefore adoption is out because you're inheriting other people's sins? Or something to that effect? And isn't being QF - to put it at its basic, simplisitic terms, is to accept God's plan for your family, whether that be a "full quiver" or otherwise? And that doesn't mean it has to be childless - perhaps you were called by God to adopt, or foster, or whatever? Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though!

    Infertility is caused by a number of reasons, both from the male and female. Female infertility can be caused by, but is not limited to, the following factors: Ovarian, lifestyle (smoking, age, STI's), Uterine, Genetic, Vaginal, Tubal, Hypothalamic-pituitary, etc etc. Male infertility can be caused by lifestyle (smoking, STI's, etc), testicular (mostly to do with the inability to produce healthy sperm) and post-testicular (impotence, etc). I would SERIOUSLY wiki it or do further research if you really want to educate yourself on it!

    And as Ruth said - the kids who take "purity pledges" are far more likely to engage in sexual acts such as blowjobs or anal, since they aren't vaginal sex and therefore considered "okay". I was told once that the best thing to happen to you if you engaged in unprotected sex would be pregnancy. Um. I tend to agree.

    Lainey - Just so you know; most HPV infections in young females are temporary and have little long-term significance. 70% of infections are gone in 1 year and 90% in 2 years.[4] But when infection persists—in 5% to 10% of infected women—there is high risk of developing cervical precancer (lesions on the cervix), which can progress to invasive cervical cancer. This process usually takes 15–20 years, providing many opportunities for detection and treatment of the pre-cancerous condition, often with high cure rates.

  15. You know it's funny, but in a recent interview, Michelle Duggar said that she and Jim Bob were considering adopting. Wonder how that will work.

  16. As many people have said before me, the only link between number of partners and infertility is the link between untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea (both of which are infections that respond very well to antibiotics) and pelvic inflammatory disease, which is just the term for serious bacterial infections of the uterus and fallopian tubes. STIs aren't the only things that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, but they're the most common. (People who've never had sex can get pelvic inflammatory disease from everyday bacteria in the environment, but it's fairly rare.)

    Because the route of transmission for gonorrhea and chlamydia are - forgive me - contact with sexual fluids, not simple skin-to-skin contact, condoms are extremely effective at preventing these infections (they're not as good at preventing infections of the skin). I'm not saying it never happens - it's much more common than it should be, but I worry that part of the reason that it happens is that young women who are having symptoms don't go to the doctor!

    Advanced maternal age is a pretty common factor in infertility for sure.

  17. I cannot have children due to severe scarring caused by sexual abuse from age five till 17. One "christian counselor" told me it was all my fault, that at age 5 I had seduced my step-father!
    I can only imagine what other religious cults would say.

  18. In the rare cases that infertility stems from and STD, it is almost always because of lack of (fairly simple) treatment, rather than being sexually active. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are very easy to treat with a simple course of antibiotics. The problem of PID only shows up after a woman is infected for a long time without treatment due to shame, lack of knowledge, poverty, etc. And while some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer (most don't though), with annual screening (pap smears) and early treatment, it has a 95% cure rate when it is caught early enough. HPV is an extremely common disease, both in the genital area and everywhere else. But it's only a few strains that can potentially cause cancer. And now there's a vaccine that prevents some (but not all) of those riskiest strains.

  19. I just would like to add that both my husband and I were in ati families (neither of our families are anymore), we were both virgins when we got married, we married in our 20s, and we have male-factor infertility. It happens. We (especially I) have felt very judged by the Christian community and especially the ati families that practice qf. We were given "advice" etc.

    All that to say - infertility happens, it does not always have a known cause, it actually occurs in men and women equally. You can exprience primary or secondary infertility regardless of how conservative you were raised or how "pure" you remained. There are many, many factors.

    We do not wish for biological children except that we will never belong to "the club" and that can still be tough. :) We knew when we married we wanted to adopt at some point and we are now the very happy and proud parents to three beautiful children through the miracle of adoption - we wouldn't trade that for the world!

  20. Don't ya just love it when the ATI people have their own "keeping up with the Jones'" thing going on. Their "high" and their status comes from the number of children they can bear. Sounds like ATI has it's own "country club" type requirements. Consider it an honor that you will "never belong to "the club". Your three beautiful children via adoption are the apples of your eyes - for sure. I know that you value and cherish them in a way that some of these ATI people will never know or understand.

  21. I am adopted. My parents (who were not promiscuous) got married and then decided to try for a child a few years later. A few tests were done when my mom was not getting pregnant, and they revealed that a gangrene infection that my dad had had in his toes 20 years prior had spread and made him infertile. He lived for 20 years not knowing that he was infertile. These things just happen sometimes. I think that the amount of STDs that affect fertility have probably gone down because of the new kinds of medicines that can treat them. People also seemed to get screened more, which allows for early intervention. Also, things like polycystic ovarian syndrome (something women just develop) can also affect fertility. Some women don't even know they have it- I bet some women in the QF (trying to be QF/ATI) community have it and don't know since they tend to shy away from modern medicine. There are so many factors involved in fertility and modern medicine is still making discoveries. I just feel so bad for women thinking that it may be their fault because they were "disobeying God".

  22. I recall a BG/ATI "bulletin" on the topic of fertility and miscarriage. It explicitly blamed miscarriage on: 1) disobeying OT laws re when couples are/are not to have sex 2) male not being circumcised 3) promiscuity before marriage 4) using birth control of any kind 5) woman not being submissive and 6) bitterness.

  23. Oh, and my sister went to Russia with an ATI group, and she said there were definitely ATI kids having sex while while over there.

  24. For accurate info on infertility, I suggest you visit FWIW my husband & I (who are not QF or ATI) have been trying conceive for over 2 years now). He's had no sexual partners prior to me & I can count on 1 hand the # of partners I've had. Also, I used condoms with every partner prior to my husband & have never had an STI. Still, thanks to PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) we struggle to have children. Sometimes people just have randomly busted plumbing. ;)

  25. i'm curious, how do QF or ATI people, especially guys, respond to the idea of women in government? do they vote? if so, would they have voted for the republican ballot this past election, and therefore showing support for a woman being in the second highest office in the nation? what would they do in 2012, if Sarah Palin was the republican nominee for president?

  26. Rendy, I recall similar sentiments about infertility being expressed at the Knoxville conference one year.



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