Amish Infertility

Joan wrote: How do the Amish deal with infertility and how does this change their lifestyle by not having helping hands.

I do not honestly know how Amish deal with infertility. I would guess that it varies from one couple to another, and from one community to another. This is something that they would not necessarily talk about with others — it is one of those issues that is rather private for them. 

I doubt any of the Amish are willing to go through some of the modern methods that some families do, such as in vitro fertilization or fertility drugs. They would be more apt to adopt children, although some couples eventually reconcile with being childless, and become like second parents to others’ children. 

Because many Amish families have left farming, there seems to be less emphasis on the really big families. Or at least I am noticing that many of my first cousins are having fewer children than their parents did. Having 5, 6, or 7 children is more common now than 12, 14, or 16 children in my home community, which was commonplace when I was growing up.

What is interesting about genetics among the Amish, is just as there are some things that are quite common because of the concentrated gene pool, there are other things that are less prevalent than in mainstream culture. Infertility seems to be one of them. It would be interesting to do a study to find out how many Amish couples are unable to have children. I would guess it would be a smaller ratio than in mainstream culture.

Thank you, Joan, for your question.

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6 thoughts on “Amish Infertility”

  1. Given how many of the common causes of infertility are genetic, it makes sense that it could be less common among the Amish. Just as they’re going to have a higher concentration of some genes, their limited gene pool might make other ones less common.

    Also, given how much “infertility” is really just sub-fertility, starting to have children at a younger age would make “infertility” less common. If two women both have sub-fertility, and lose the ability to have children in their early thirties, the one who already has three children might not notice it as much as the one who is trying for a first child.

  2. Being infertile is almost a stigma in some Amish communities. There was an article about it in Family Life magazine a number of years ago, which ignited a lively response in the Letters column for months. I know that some Lancaster County Amish take in foster children and occasionally adopt them, but this is rare. There is now a support group that meets annually in the summer in Ohio that draws from Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Indiana.

    I have never heard of any kind of high tech intervention being done, but I do know of one couple that at least got a reason diagnosed. The problem is that men are not allowed to provide a “sample” the usual way. The couple I know discovered a hormone imbalance, and the husband started medication, but they still have not been fortunate.

  3. Another cause for infertility is scarred fallopian tubes which can be a result of abortion. Since abortion does not happen in the Amish community and it’s sadly common among us non-Amish, it could be another reason why infertility is less common among the Amish.


  4. I don’t know how anyone can live without running water? How can they have a dairy farm? Yuck! Women should demand for running water. This is not a poor country ehere they live in huts? I spoke with this ex Amish girl who told me this was one of the reasons she left. The other one, she wanted to pursue her education? I think she has the human right to do so!

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