According to the National Institute of Child Health & Development, About 7% of men (4.7 million) and about 11% of women (6.7 million) of reproductive age in the United States have experienced fertility problems. So that is approximately 11.4 MILLION people that have experienced infertility for various reasons. So why does it feel like you’re alone on a deserted island when you’re going through infertility? Why does it feel like everyone around us has a perfect round belly and healthy children? The reality is that many, many people have experienced infertility but it has become a taboo topic and a subject that isn’t widely talked about. It’s time to bring about infertility awareness.
- Talk about it. Talk about infertility. In your own time, of course. Talk about it with your close friends. When they ask “how have you been?” or “what’s new?”, tell them the truth. Speak out about it on social media. Share articles or resources. Create a blog and write about your journey. This may, of course, take months or even years for you to be ready to do this. If you’re not quite ready, give yourself time to grieve and heal. But when you are, become a voice for so many others who have experienced infertility. In my experience, speaking out about infertility set me free. I was no longer chained by this “label.” I was so rewarded by hearing of similar stories from people who reached out to me after sharing. I was proud when I heard people say “you inspired me” or “you helped me through by sharing your story.” That, for me, was worth it.
- Start a support group. Once you begin sharing your story, I can guarantee that people will reach out to you at some point. It is so validating to hear similar stories and share experiences. There is no reason we should feel alone when going through infertility. Be a leader. Start a support group – whether it’s an in-person group or Facebook group. Give people a safe place to come with their struggles and emotions. Provide hope to someone that hasn’t felt it in a while. Tell others about it. Post about it on social media so your efforts have a higher reach to those who need it. Ask your friends and family to share it for you, too.
- Participate in infertility awareness events. If you see a cause supporting infertility awareness – join in! This can come in many forms so keep your eyes open. Some churches host groups. I’ve seen many cities that do 5K races. Perhaps it’s a luncheon or speaking event. If you can’t participate, volunteer. Gather others to help you volunteer, too.
- Support the cause. If you see a family speaking out about infertility on social media, comment or share. Send them some encouragement. If you come across a couple fundraising for IVF or adoption, give. Give them $10. Giving is a wonderful form of support. If you come across a t-shirt campaign, buy one. Wear it proudly. Allow others to see that infertility is not our label. It does not define us, but helps shape us.
- Find an existing organization and get involved. I’d imagine that many large cities already have a community foundation or organization such as Kansas City Infertility Awareness Foundation. This amazing foundation supports families that have experienced infertility. It includes educational classes, family meet ups, monthly support groups, and even an annual conference. These types of organizations likely need all the volunteers they can get. So jump in and surround yourself with love and support from those who understand what you’ve experienced. Many times, that offers us healing as we help others heal, too.
When you’re ready to begin speaking out and being an advocate for infertility awareness, I hope you find yourself freed as I did. I hope it brings you courage, bravery, and healing. When we speak out, we’re doing so for someone else who isn’t quite ready. We’re speaking out to those who feel alone when they’re not. Once you get involved in the cause, other opportunities may present themselves. Take it. Take a leap. Make a difference. No one should go through infertility alone.