It’s been six months since Kyle and I made the decision to “go public” with our infertility and intention to pursue surrogacy. I started this blog last October in the midst of searching for a gestational carrier and, less than a month later, somehow found the nerve to post a link to Facebook. We knew that once we shared our story we could never take it back, but we saw it as an opportunity to help others better understand infertility and what we were going through.
Society does not make it easy for anyone to talk about the issues involved with infertility. Even if someone does choose to speak up, there is a general lack of widespread support and understanding. The reality is that infertility continues to be a taboo subject that carries a firmly attached stigma. There are likely several individuals in your life who are presently struggling with infertility or have experienced it in the past, many of whom you are completely unaware. No one wants to be the face of this disease. Even though more than 10% of the population will deal with infertility, hardly anyone is talking about it.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
– Winston Churchill
For many, being open about infertility is beyond their current ability, for a variety of reasons. Some couples even choose to struggle through the pain without ever telling a single person about what they’re facing– just because of all the difficulties involved. Below are some examples of the reasons why someone may remain silent:
- Feelings of embarrassment and shame
- Insensitive reactions and comments from others
- Lack of support or understanding
- Fear of being vulnerable over such a sensitive issue
- Facing criticism and judgment from others
- Being forced to acknowledge prying questions
- Fear of disappointing loved ones with bad news
This week (April 19-25) is the 2015 National Infertility Awareness Week and we’ve been challenged to make an effort to raise awareness. For me, that means continuing to talk about the reality of infertility even when I don’t want to or feel like others would prefer not to hear it. If you haven’t experienced infertility, you can still help simply by refuting the popular myths (including some listed below) when they come up in conversation or by just being there for a loved one who is willing to share their struggle with you.
To be honest, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of our experiences is not easy. I’ve had many moments of doubt, and there have been times when I think it would have been much easier to stay silent. However, raising awareness is necessary for change. And change is necessary.
Here are few things you should know about infertility:
– Although IVF is generally the most well-known fertility treatment, most couples have other, less invasive options available to them. Less than 5% of individuals undergoing fertility treatments are using IVF.
– Only 15 states require insurance companies to provide some coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment. Those states are: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia.
– Infertility is characterized by the inability to get pregnant after a year of ovulation-timed sex. Until you’ve reached that point, it is not recommended to undergo infertility testing unless you’ve been previously diagnosed with a reproductive disease or are over the age of 35, in which case you should consult a doctor after 6 months.
– The sad truth is that despite popular belief, not everyone who goes through treatment will be able to have children. Success through IVF is not guaranteed.
– Infertility is actually more common than you think. About 1 in 8 couples will experience infertility at some point.
– Male infertility occurs just as often as female infertility, each accounting for about 1/3 of all cases. The last third is usually referred to as “unexplained infertility.”
– Infertility is a disease. It is an “invisible disease,” meaning that you cannot see how someone is affected by looking at them on the outside. Do not make judgments on something you do not understand.
– Just because you have had a child does not mean you can’t experience infertility. Secondary infertility accounts for approximately half of all infertility cases. This type of infertility is also very painful, yet it can be overlooked because of a previously successful pregnancy.
– Couples can still struggle from infertility while they’re young. Although women are more likely to experience infertility as they age, the diagnosis is no less real for a woman in her 20’s.
A great video to watch or share for infertility awareness:
For more about National Infertility Awareness Week:
For a list of infertility support resources: