National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) kicks off on April 23, 2023. Infertility is a reproductive condition that is more common and painful than many may know. According to the World Health Organization “between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals have infertility globally.” Those experiencing infertility may feel depressed, anxious, and alone. NIAW serves as a time for people to stop suffering in silence. Breaking the silence about infertility can have multiple benefits for a person’s mental and emotional health. Learn more about the extraordinary differences you can make when you share your fertility journey.
With infertility, it can be easy for a person to blame themselves and feel a sense of inadequacy with their bodies, especially women. Science has proven though, that infertility is not just a woman’s issue. Multiple factors play a role when a couple is trying to conceive. Factors can range from the sperm count of a male partner or even something as minute as a food ingredient could be the cause of a delayed pregnancy.
It is through storytelling and shared experiences that we can collectively debunk harmful stigmas surrounding this disease. Sharing your story has the potential to motivate others to discover what is truly taking place.
INSPIRE OTHERS TO FIND THEIR VOICE
Research has shown that infertility can tremendously affect the self-esteem and self-confidence within a person. The harm to a person’s self-esteem can eventually lead some to completely withdraw from their loved ones. Sharing the highs and lows, the disappointments and the small victories could remove the shame that one places on themselves in infertility. Witnessing another person having the same experience can not only affirm that a person is not to blame, but they are not alone. There is strength in community. According to Remedy, “Communities provide a cohort of individuals to rely on for support and who likely care about you and want to be an outlet for you.” Those who feel uplifted by others, can then be inspired to lift themselves and their voices up.
PROVIDE YOURSELF A THERAPEUTIC OUTLET
Pregnancy tests consistently coming back negative and the constant asking of “when are you going to have kids?” can take an extreme toll on the mental health of those experiencing infertility. The American Psychiatric Association reported that 40% of women who are experiencing fertility can eventually develop depression and anxiety . In the act of expression, their lies relief and at times, even hope. Research Professor of Psychology at the University of the South shared with Psychology Today that “People who have found their voice, shared their story, and reaffirmed their values often find a sense of peace and a hopefulness that they did not have before.”
4 WAYS YOU CAN SHARE YOUR FERTILITY STORY
There is not a one size that fits all in regards of how to communicate our experience, especially our struggles. It is important to remember that the choice of how you share your infertility obstacles as well as how much you share belongs to just you.
There are many different outlets for people to share their fertility journey.
Ways you can open the dialogue about infertility personally include:
1. Fertility forums: Forums such as Reddit can provide anonymity and a safe space for people struggling to conceive. Fertility forums such as r/infertility can provide support and community people desire without a person having to disclose their identity. Utilizing sites such as Reddit gives people the opportunity to discreetly reveal their feelings and may provide more insight with various fertility options.
2. Video and photo social media outlets: Social media platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook can give people physical insight into what a fertility journey looks like. These social media platforms also have the power to reach the masses. Your story has the potential to influence and touch many worldwide. Using hashtags like #infertility, #ivfcommunity, or #ivfwarrior can easily connect you to audience who are looking for relatable stories like yours.
3. Advocacy and educational organizations: Reproductive organizations such as Resolve strive to educate and deconstruct infertility misconceptions. They also provide a space to share your story. Additionally, experienced reproductive specialists and advocates, such as James P. Lin, strive to support women in their journey through fertility resources such as education, healthcare, and community. Infertility associations are also known to help bring community as well as empower others through reproductive health information.
4. Participating in National Infertility Awareness Week: Taking part in Resolve’s National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) can serve as an opportunity to connect with people dealing with reproductive obstacles. Each day brings a new challenge to spread awareness and come together to have an open dialogue about fertility. By participating in NIAW women and men can form connections and truly break down stereotypes of what it is truly like to experience fertility. Learn more at https://www.infertilityawareness.org/.
Although many enduring infertility can feel lonely, understanding that there are millions up against the same battle grants the opportunity for community, hope, and growth.