Infertility Awareness

by sockii

There's no reason to struggle in silence when dealing with infertility. Learn more about the infertility awareness movement and why it is so important today.

Being able to have children of one's own is a fact of life most people take for granted. We generally assume that when one wants to get pregnant and have children, it will be easy once you find the right partner and simply decide to start trying. Indeed, most people are far more concerned about birth control and preventing unwanted pregnancy when it would be inconvenient or unwelcome, than ever think about what it would be like to not be able to have a child whenever the "time is right".

But for others, the dream of being able to give birth to a healthy, happy baby ends up being far out of reach, and often unexpectedly and inexplicably so. Those struggling with infertility not only have to deal with the pain and grief of potentially never having children, but they also have to deal with ignorance about the condition and its causes, and lack of understanding from friends, loved ones and society in general.

Many, however, are at last starting to speak up and attempt to raise infertility awareness and knowledge. This page is dedicated to those individuals who choose to fight for awareness and consideration when it comes to matters of infertility, and helping other women and couples struggling with this disease.

Infertility Facts and Statistics

Do You Know How Common Fertility Problems Are?

Based on CDC statistics from 2002, 7.3 million women in the United States ages 15-44 were reported to have "impaired fecundity" (impaired ability to have children). That made the percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity 11.8%. RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association of the United States, states that 1 in 8 men and women deal with infertility, and as high as 1 in 6 couples may face fertility struggles, making this far from a matter which affects only a select few.

From a medical standpoint, infertility is classically defined as an inability to conceive after a year of regular intercourse with no contraception. For women over 35, doctors will often recommend seeing a specialist after 6 months instead of waiting for a full year due to a woman's chance of conceiving naturally already dropping quickly after this age.The factors which cause fertility troubles are many, including ovulation difficulties, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, sperm disorders and other unexplained factors. While many fertility treatments are available today, most of these are very expensive and insurance coverage is limited, at best. Many couples will spend tens of thousands of dollars, if not much more than that, in an attempt to combat the disease with no guarantee these treatments will work. Meanwhile their relationships often suffer great emotional as well as financial strain before either achieving success or deciding to stop pursuing treatment.

Some couples choose not to go through stressful and physically demanding treatments, instead seeking adoption as a way to build their families. Yet adoption is not the answer nor even a possibility for all couples. For others, the fight becomes how to accept a future without children. Those with infertility should not be judged or questioned on what methods they do or don't chose to pursue to build a family - not by their fertile friends and family nor by others in the infertility community.

What It's Like To Know You Can't Have Kids

Three women share their story

Books on Coping with Infertility

Not about miracle cures, but finding hope and new beginnings
Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility

For people experiencing infertility, wanting a baby is a craving unlike any other. The intensity of their longing is matched only by the complexity of the emotional maze they mu...

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Coping With Infertility, Miscarriage, and Neonatal Loss: Finding Perspective and Creating Meaning...

Pregnancy loss can be devastating, regardless of whether it is early or late in pregnancy or in the short period after a baby is born. In many instances, similar emotions are ex...

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Ever Upward: Overcoming the Life Long Losses of Infertility to Define Your Own Happy Ending.

“When are you having kids?” “Why don’t you just adopt?” These innocent, well-meaning questions everyone asks couples, especially women of a certain age. To those 1 in 8 couples ...

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Has infertility affected your life in some way?

Couple with baby

Messages of Hope and Understanding

Videos about Infertility Awareness

Useful Resouces On-Line Related to Fertility

Blogs, Websites, Communities and More
  • RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association

    RESOLVE is one of the best sites out there for information, support and advocacy related to infertility.

  • 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility

    Sometimes we need to take a breather and laugh a bit at the insanity that can surround dealing with infertility. This blog, and associated Facebook page, can be a good place to start.

  • Yolk: A blog about eggs and sperm

    One of my favorite personal blogs on the subject of infertility. The author discusses her own struggles with brutal honesty yet a wicked sense of humor, tackling societal issues as well as medical ones.

  • The Stirrup Queens

    A blog roll of blogs devoted to various aspects of infertility, from loss and grief to adoption and living child-free.

  • Silent Sorority - The Blog

    Sometimes the women who feel most alone in the infertility community are those who have chosen not to undergo IF treatments or adoption, or have failed in their efforts to build a family through these approaches. This blog is for those coping with be

  • Infertility is the New Black

    Dark, emotional and honest are the words I have for this blog, which takes an unflinching look at the many ways infertility can affect us - from avoiding friends and social situations to the upset that even Christmas cards can cause.

  • Infertility Awareness (Facebook)

    A community on Facebook dedicated to providing support and raising awareness about infertility issues.

Looking for a Support Community?

Learn more about several of them in my article below:
If you are struggling with infertility, there are a number of great communities and organizations online where you can find support and acceptance.

One Problem in Infertility Support Communities

Is Too Much Emphasis Still Placed on Having Children?

A conversation with a friend solidified one concern and quibble I have with today's infertility support communities - and society in general.

The emphasis in many infertility support communities is still largely focused on having children and couples' struggles with doing so: how to afford IVF; side effects from fertility drugs; going through the adoption process; dealing with the emotional fallout of multiple miscarriages. These are all completely valid and important issues, no doubt. Yet, it often seems as though there is little room in these communities for those who have chosen not to pursue IF treatments, can't afford it even if they wanted to, or are more concerned with their own personal health issues which may be causing their infertility.

Our society today is so focused on children being a logical and almost "necessary" part of being an adult human being, of being part of a family, of being happy with ourselves. Those who cannot have children, who have given up on fertility treatments or never could afford them, those who had no success in adoption or know it is not for them - what support is there for them? Often they can feel alienated from the very community, the infertility support community, that is supposed to be there for them. Indeed, for a woman who is concerned more that she has early infertility that could be a warning sign of other health problems she should worry about - where can she go to talk about these matters? Does anyone really care, if she's not focused entirely on having a child, her own health and family stability being only secondary?

This is why I support Silent Sorority so much, as one of the few resources out there for infertiles who have either given up on fertility treatments or have other reasons to be focused on simply coming to terms with a childless future, instead of obsessing over getting pregnant. It's worth a serious look, if you've been feeling frustrated with other infertility communities.If you want to learn more about some of the online support communities out there - including those that go beyond providing support during IF treatment and looking to accept a childfree future.

Why treatment or adoption is not the answer for everyone

Medical treatments for infertility have made great progress in recent years, but they are still not for every couple or individual struggling with fertility problems.

Infertility and Facebook

Why Facebook is a Virtual Minefield for Some

Dislike buttonThe social network Facebook has helped bring millions of people closer together, but for those coping with infertility, Facebook can become a hazardous place to spend time. Indeed, even The Washington Post called Facebook a Minefield for Infertile Couples in an October 2010 article. The blog Chronic Healing called it "Facebook Fertility Fallout". But what's the big problem, those who don't suffer from this disease might be wondering?

The problem is over-sharing. We almost all do it from time to time on Facebook, excited to share the latest news with our friends and family members. But the constant reminders of our Facebook friends' fertility through endless baby pictures, pregnancy updates, and "memes" celebrating how wonderful it is to be a mother can send an infertile women running from the computer in tears - or snapping angrily at friends who don't understand why their postings are so upsetting.It can be difficult because of course no one wants to tell fertiles they shouldn't be allowed to post baby pictures or happy news about their newborns. Clearly others celebrate the news based on the typical dozens of "likes" and comments such posts receive.

And while we do certainly feel happy about our friends' good fortune, it can be difficult to focus only on the good news and not end up reflecting on our own disappointments, especially under a constant barrage of baby-baby-baby-baby news (sometimes I want to just call Facebook "Babybook" instead since that's what it can feel like!)

So I personally hope some of my pregnant or new-mother Facebook friends understand if I have to "hide" their status updates for a while, until/if they go back to more regularly posting about non-baby related matters. And I hope that they would understand that I'd prefer they not bring up their baby or pregnancy in every comment they post on my OWN status updates, or post photos on my Wall, or other such intrusive things which WILL lead me to eventually private message them about why this is being hurtful to me - or simply unfriend them if I don't want a confrontation.

Maybe it's a good idea to just quit Facebook entirely?

Is it time to quit Facebook for good? That's the question many people find themselves wondering, and whether the social network is good or bad for our relationships.

Infertility and the Holidays

When families gather for holidays and special events, it is supposed to be a happy time for all. But for those dealing with infertility, holidays can become a personal nightmare or emotional challenge when the focus seems too much on children: everyone else's and why you don't have your own.

What's the Hardest Event/Holiday to Deal with when You're Infertile?

Articles I've written on the holidays and infertility

Infertility can be difficult to deal with any time of the year, but the holidays can be especially challenging.
For those affected by infertility, Halloween is another holiday that can be difficult to cope with due to its emphasis on children and trick-or-treating.

More Books (and Memoirs) about Infertility

Coping, and moving on...
Managing The Stress Of Infertility: How To Balance Your Emotions, Get The Support You Need, And D...

Are You In Treatment For Infertility? Do you get upset when you attend baby showers or go to malls full of baby strollers and pregnant women? Do you feel like crying when friend...

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Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me?

If you're eager to have a baby, doesn't the title say enough? Laugh, cry, share, relate - LOVE this book and all it offers to your soul. It's wit, wisdom and warmth from an auth...

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So Close: Infertile and Addicted to Hope

Meet, marry and make a baby: That's how it's supposed to go, right? What happens when you start trying for a family ... and trying, and trying some more? How far do you go to ac...

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I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood

Lisa Manterfield was a sensible 32-year-old when she met The One a man who sparked a passion for tango, an urge to break down closed doors, and a deep-rooted desire to reproduce...

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Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss

Hannah’s Hope is intended as a guide to assist you in making wise decisions as you struggle through your grief of not yet conceiving, losing a child, or struggling through the a...

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Baby Hunger

The silence of infertility is deafening!It has been estimated that one of six American couples will face difficulty getting pregnant, yet their cries go unheard. The unfulfilled...

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National Infertility Awareness Week

Join the Cause to Increase Awareness

Infertility Awareness ribbonNational Infertility Awareness Week is an annual event held every April. Sponsored by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association of the United States, NIAW has a different theme every year. These themes spotlight struggles such as "Busting Infertility Myths" and things not to ignore about the condition - including ourselves.

There are many ways to take part in NIAW in the future, from blogging about your experiences, telling your personal story, taking part in the Walk of Hope, adding a Twibbon to your Facebook or Twitter picture to tell everyone you are part of the cause. Come up with your own ways to participate in and mark NIAW - as I did by creating this webpage here myself.

Of course, infertility awareness is a year-long campaign that should not be forgotten once NIAW has taken place. Raising awareness takes constant effort and many work diligently all through the year to keep attention focused on the cause.

Do You Feel Infertility Awareness is an Important Issue and Cause?

Do people today need to understand more about infertility?
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PETA vs. the Infertility Community

A Prime Example of Why We Need Awareness

Here's an example from the past few years that drove home the issue perfectly as to why infertility awareness is so needed today.

In March 2011, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a publicity campaign/contest where "in honor of" National Infertility Awareness Week, they would be giving away a free vasectomy to a man who neutered or spayed his pet. Word of the campaign outraged many who felt that it was making a joke of the pain and suffering of those fighting infertility, which has nothing to do with controlling the animal population.

After community outrage and protests, lead beautifully by the Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed blog, PETA tried to fauxpologize and even pull the "why don't you just adopt?" card. Others joined the protest, signing a petition which closed after over 2,000 names voiced their dismay. When PETA only changed the wording of their campaign to say "during" instead of "in honor of," it still wasn't enough. A counter protest page even was created on Facebook: "In Honor of PETA, I'm Eating Meat for Infertility Awareness Week." (Of course, joining and promoting the page myself caused me to get into a Facebook kerfluffle with those who now said I was promoting "undo animal suffering" by eating more meat. Sometimes you just can't win...)

PETA finally backed down and removed all references to NIAW from their website and contest promotions. But it took the concerted efforts of many people to try to get them to acknowledge their insensitivity and how their campaign was only hurting their own cause, not helping it.

What's the worst thing to say to a person dealing with infertility?

To Speak Out or Not To Speak Out about Infertility

It's Every Person's Individual Choice

First sunflowerInfertility is a personal journey, which no two people take the same path along. Every person must choose not only how they will deal with the disease but how they will deal with discussing the subject with others.

Awareness isn't about forcing people to discuss their struggles with fertility if they choose not to. Indeed, awareness is about teaching others how difficult a subject infertility can be, and how pressing people about why they don't have children or why they have/haven't done certain things to treat it can be painful and rude.

Awareness is about telling people it's okay to talk about your infertility but only if you want to.

It's about not being ashamed of one's condition.

It's about making the world aware of the struggle being faced by millions of women and men today.

I do not hide the fact, from my friends and family, that this is an issue I am struggling with myself. I do not necessarily discuss the details of why or what treatments I may or may not pursue with those whom I don't trust personally nor with those for whom, frankly, I consider it none of their business. But I do feel compelled to speak up when I see infertility being dismissed or assumptions being made about people who have children and those who don't. I speak out to open up conversations, to try to explain why things have made me upset and why I may find certain situations uncomfortable. This is what raising awareness means to me.

Photo by the author, sockii.

More of my articles on infertility, awareness, and life without children

If your adult child is struggling with infertility, you may be struggling yourself knowing how to help him or her best.
Which is more selfish: choosing to be a parent or choosing to live childfree? And what of those who have that choice taken away from them due to infertility?
"Do you have kids?" is one of the first questions I often seem to be asked when meeting new people. But it's not always an easy question for some to answer...
When infertility or circumstances have kept you from having children, you may find it difficult moving forward and finding purpose in your life.
What is the common thread that links all of those suffering from infertility? The realization that you are not alone. Learn more about the "Common Thread" project here.
Couples are starting to turn to crowdsourcing websites to raise money for their infertility treatments or adoption costs. Good or bad idea?
When you're a non-mom, sometimes it can be tricky to be in a social situation with a room full of parents.
Is it easier to live happily childless or childfree in a big city? What are some of the drawbacks of NOT being a parent if you move to a rural or suburban area?

I hope you've found some useful information about infertility advocacy on this page. Please leave me your feedback, including any links to other blogs, sites or articles I could add to improve it. Thank you for reading!

Updated: 07/22/2015, sockii
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