According to RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and you’re likely to see resources shared on how to open up a dialogue about infertility and support those who are going through it. And while these resources are wonderful, it’s important to make sure we are raising awareness all year, not just for one week. Here are 10 ways you can show support, educate yourself and others, and help break the stigmas associated with infertility.
Share your infertility story
Conversation is one of the greatest catalysts to change. If you are or have ever dealt with infertility, sharing your story can be a way to start a dialogue and educate others who may not understand how serious infertility is.
Educate yourself about male infertility
One of the most common beliefs is that women are the ones who deal with infertility the most. This is just not true. In fact, one-third of couples who have trouble conceiving experience this due to the male’s reproductive health — the same amount of females who are infertile. It’s important that this knowledge is spread far and wide so men who are struggling with infertility can receive the support they need.
Ask others to share their infertility story
Each of us experiences our journey to parenthood differently and each of our stories contributes to a larger understanding of infertility. Ask others that you know have dealt with infertility to share their stories if they are comfortable doing so. Listen actively and work to gain a better understanding of what they are going through. Then, ask how you can support them.
Learn more about your reproductive health
In general, Americans lack comprehensive knowledge about their reproductive health. One great way to raise infertility awareness is to educate yourself on the way your body works and the factors that can impact your fertility. Knowledge is power — the more you learn, the more you can be in charge of your reproductive health and fertility.
Share factual, helpful articles on social media
Whether you or someone you know is dealing with infertility, it can be tempting to stay quiet about resources that could help. No one wants to see presumptuous when it comes to such a sensitive topic. But sharing articles that are from a credible source and give positive, supporting information can help others feel like they are not alone or, if you’re the one who is working through infertility, educate others on how they can better support you.
Some great resources on infertility are:
Learn the appropriate language for discussing infertility
As with any “taboo” topic, it can be a challenge to find the right words to use. Calling it a disease can help break the stigma of it being someone’s fault. Be open to learning from infertility professionals or those who have gone through it — they will have insight into terms or phrases that are more hurtful than helpful and can offer alternatives.
Ask questions that challenge infertility stigmas
On that note, infertility is never anyone’s fault and blame shouldn’t be placed. One way to challenge stigmas and myths about infertility is to ask questions that challenge them. This can be done in a peaceful way by simply saying, “could you explain what you mean by that?”. Often, when people are asked to elaborate on something they’ve stigmatized, a learning opportunity arises.
Ask your employer for infertility coverage
This might feel scary but it never hurts to ask if your employer will consider offering insurance that covers infertility. RESOLVE offers a great resource on how to ask and what information to give your employer.
Get involved in your community
According to RESOLVE, Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples, which means there are many in your own community. Look for a local organization to volunteer your time at. One of the things that people need most when struggling to conceive is support from the people around them. Giving a few hours of your time each week can make a big difference in someone’s life.
Donate money to infertility associations like RESOLVE
One of the best ways to raise awareness for infertility is to donate money to an organization that actively fights for the rights and resources needed to address infertility. Associations like RESOLVE, the sponsor of National Infertility Awareness Week, always accept donations.
Infertility is a serious disease that takes a toll emotionally and physically. Raising awareness can start with a simple conversation, so don’t be afraid to get involved. If you need support, reach out to a local or national organization about the resources available to you. Above all, remember that you are not alone.