Happy National Infertility Awareness Week®! We have so many fun projects and collaborations planned this week to help raise awareness about infertility and the need for increased education, support and financial relief for those going through it.
I am on a mission to get #IVFingReal about infertility and IVF, and I’m excited to bring you all along!
But before we jump into everything, I thought it would be good to start by explaining what National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is and why it’s so important to me and everyone in the infertility and IVF community.
National Infertility Awareness Week® was founded by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in 1989. The movement has set out to reduce stigma and educate the public about reproductive health and issues that make building a family difficult for so many. It’s also a movement to empower those whose lives are forever changed when they struggle to build a family. In 2010, National Infertility Awareness Week became a federally recognized health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services.
This year’s theme is #InfertilityUncovered: Infertility does not discriminate based on sex, race, religion, age or even socio-economic status. Let’s uncover the issues of access facing the most vulnerable members of our community — those without access to insurance coverage for infertility care or the economic means to pay out-of-pocket for treatments, third-party options or adoption. (source: RESOLVE)
RESOLVE chose orange as the color of NIAW because the color promotes a sense of general wellness and emotional energy that should be shared, such as compassion, passion and warmth. Orange will help a person recover from disappointments, a wounded heart, or a blow to one’s pride. Studies show that the color orange can create physical effects such as heightened sense of activity, increased socialization, boost in aspiration, stimulated mental activity, increased oxygen supply to the brain, increased contentment, and enhanced assurance.
You all know that infertility awareness is important to me because of my own personal journey, but it’s a disease (yes, disease) that affects millions of people. Here are some facts that may surprise you:
- Infertility is NOT just an inconvenience. It is considered a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction (World Health Organization).
- Infertility impacts 1 in 8 families in the U.S. today.
- 7.4 million, or 12%, have received infertility services in their lifetime.
- In about 40% of infertility cases, a medical issue with the woman is the cause. In 30% of cases, it is the man. And in 20% of cases, both the man and woman are the cause. Approximately 10% of infertility cases can’t be explained.
- Approximately 85-90% of infertility cases are treated with drug therapy or surgical procedures. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- IVF is the most effective treatment, but 70% of the treatments still fail.
- The number of annual IVF cycles has grown nearly 2x in the last 8 years.
- The average IVF cycle costs $22,000-$23,500, and patients require an average of 2.3 treatments to have a successful, full-term pregnancy. The average successful patient spends $66,000 on infertility treatments.
- Less than 20% of Americans have any IVF coverage and thus most pay for all their bills out of pocket.
- Only 15 states currently have an insurance mandate requiring some level of infertility coverage (New York will be #16 starting in 2020). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not require coverage for infertility treatments.
- In a recent study, 61% of respondents hid their infertility from family and friends. Experts say that speaking out to trusted loved ones means getting more support as you and your doctor unravel the root cause of your infertility. (source: hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Studies have shown that the levels of depression and anxiety suffered from people going through infertility are on par with cancer patients.
So you see why it’s so important that we use our voices this week more than ever to bring awareness to this awful disease and the impact it has on people – mentally, emotionally, physically and financially.
Through my work with the Samantha and Kyle Busch Bundle of Joy Fund, I continue to advocate during NIAW and year-round for infertility education and awareness and to remove the financial barriers that stop so many couples from having their own bundle of joy. I’m so proud to say that, since starting in 2015, we have awarded 37 grants totaling almost $500,000 with 19 babies born and three more on their way so far. You can meet our whole Bundle of Joy family here!
While we currently only offer grants through REACH clinic in Charlotte, our hope is to increase funding to be able to expand into new markets. We are also advocating for mandatory insurance coverage for infertility and IVF treatments. We know that’s a long road, but it’s the best way we can help as many people as possible have a chance at starting their own family.
Like any non-profit, our ability to help others relies on generous donations from individuals, corporations and sponsors. We are hoping to use NIAW to raise awareness about the disease and its affects and inspire people to consider the Bundle of Joy Fund when choosing a charity to support. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the Bundle of Joy Fund, you can learn more here.
If you’d like to get involved in National Infertility Awareness Week, the easiest thing to do is just join the conversation. Share your own personal story, provide support to others going through it, or simply share facts to raise awareness. Use the hashtags #IVFingReal and #InfertilityUncovered to join the social conversation.
You can also talk to your HR or benefits team about adding or enhancing your fertility benefits at your workplace. Progyny is a fertility benefits company that can provide coverage for your company. They have put together tools to help you start this conversation.
If you want to learn more about current legislation and how you can advocate for insurance coverage and access to infertility treatment, RESOLVE is a great resource through their Advocate for Access guide.
Like I said, we have so many big things going on this week, and I am so ready to use my voice to raise awareness and push for change – I hope you will join me!