Reproduction is a topic that people do not like to talk about most of the time. We take it for granted in our society that the usual life course is to fall in love, get married, and then have children. This is so much a part of our culture and society that discussing topics that force us to think about diverging away from “the norm” can be very uncomfortable and quite painful.
The fact is, however, that 1 out of every 8 women you know has been diagnosed with infertility. If that isn’t shocking enough, you might not know that women can be diagnosed with something called Secondary Infertility, meaning they have had one baby but can’t get pregnant again. One in twenty men have been diagnosed with infertility, and as hard as it is for women to discuss their diagnosis, I think it is even more difficult for men.
Every year, the National Infertility Association sets aside a week for Infertility Awareness. They try to set it towards the end of April, and I imagine that decision is because it is fairly close to Mother’s Day, which can be a very difficult day for couples struggling to have a baby. This year, National Infertility Awareness Week is April 22-April 28.
The main purpose of National Infertility Awareness Week is to get people talking about this very challenging topic. There are countless landmines surrounding infertility. For example:
- Couples diagnosed with infertility can feel shame, as if they have done something wrong
- Couples diagnosed with infertility may not want to tell family and friends because they don’t feel comfortable or they don’t want to make people with kids feel awkward or different
- Couples diagnosed with infertility may try many different VERY expensive routes to get pregnant, whether it’s with hormone usage, IVF, or something else. Not only are these treatment options very expensive, but they also create a tremendous roller coaster of emotions for the couple. If people around them don’t know what’s going on, this can be confusing.
You probably know someone right now who has been diagnosed with infertility, or who is dreading going to a doctor after not being able to get pregnant. You probably have no idea that your friend or loved one is going through that struggle. You may not know for years and years. Because this unfortunately is such a silent struggle for so many people, the National Infertility Association encourages people not to ask questions like, “When are you going to give me my grandchild” or “Why haven’t you guys had a baby yet?” These questions come from a place of love and excitement, but they can be devastating for a couple that wants to answer those questions in a very different way from what they actually can say.
If you yourself are dealing with a diagnosis of infertility, this association can be a great resource for you. There are local in-person groups you can join in addition to national initiatives.
Most of all, the association wants men and women with infertility to understand that while this is a taboo subject right now, it should not be. There should not be feelings of shame or guilt. Infertility is like a disease. Along with not being able to have a baby, there can be other repercussions for the individual as well, and those are complicated and hard to talk about, too.
If you want to show your support for National Infertility Awareness Week or if you want to learn more about the association, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/resolveinfertilityorg/.