"An infertility diagnosis carries the same emotional burden as a cancer diagnosis. Just let that sink in."
This is Infertility Awareness Week, a time to shine a light on a medical diagnosis that many battle in silence. 7.4 million, or 1 in 8 people experience infertility, but the actual number of people who seek fertility care is much higher.
"That doesn't even count people who might be in the LGBTQ plus community. It might it doesn't include people who want to be a single parent by choice," said Barb Collura. "So we know that a lot of people struggle it's not just the millions of the one and eight but that many, many more."
Collura is the President and CEO of RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. "Infertility does not discriminate," she said from her New York City hotel room on Wednesday afternoon, "We say this all the time. It doesn't matter your race, your ethnicity, your religion, if you're a man or a woman, your economic status, anyone can be diagnosed with infertility."
RESOLVE is working to change the way people view and treat an infertility diagnosis. On April 27th, they lit the Emire State Building orange to honor all of those who have and who will fight infertility.
"So at our organization at RESOLVE, we work really hard to remove that barrier," Collura said of their work to change state law and get infertility treatment covered by health insurance. "We feel that it's the quickest way to get equitable care for everyone is to have insurance coverage."
"Right now, we have 14 states that have some sort of law that says companies must provide IVF insurance, but we have a long ways to go." One cycle of IVF, or In-Vitro Fertilization, can range anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on where and when a couple seeks treatment and there are many other costs associated with infertility treatment as well, for both men and women.
"About a third is attributed to the female, a third to male and then a third is really unknown or combination of both," Collura said about the diagnosis of infertility. "So it's not a women's health issue, it is a reproductive issue that impacts men, women, all people equally."
The shock of a diagnosis can be huge, added on top of the financial cost. This is why RESOLVE is not only working to change state and federal law to make infertility care mandatory in health insurance coverage, but they are helping people create the family they dream of with financial assistance as well.
"No one expects to have an infertility diagnosis. It's not like you have a special savings account for this and a lot of us don't ever even check our health insurance plans from our employers to find out if this is covered," Collura said, "but then you get diagnosed, you realize you're going to need access to that kind of care."
"We know that the financial barrier is a huge stressor so we want to remove that," Collura said. "But there are a lot of emotional barriers to this journey as well."
"Infertility is very isolating. Most people do keep silent actually, but they feel very stigmatized."
RESOLVE is also working to break that stigma and bring people together because while every journey through infertility is unique, it's important to know you don't have to walk it alone.
"There are going to be people who will never feel comfortable doing that and sharing their story. And I say to you make sure you get support," Collura said. "Make sure you surround yourself with people who understand you and can support you. What I know is that when you do start getting that support and you have a network around you, it might be through RESOLVE, it might be through your friends and family, your journey becomes less burdensome. And ultimately what we care about most is your mental health. And making sure that you're taken care of.
If your loved one opens up about their journey with infertility, Collura says the best thing you can do, is be there in support.
"So I would just say to your loved one. I'm here for you. I care about you, and how can I best support you? Because I want to be a resource and a support system for you."
But if you choose not to share your journey, that is okay, too.
"An infertility diagnosis carries the same emotional burden as a cancer diagnosis. Just let that sink in," Collura said with a pause. "But we all know when somebody is diagnosed with cancer they tell their entire world and there are people who are bringing them food and visiting and supporting them.
"Just imagine now you're that person with an infertility diagnosis, the same emotional trauma, but you're not comfortable telling anybody and you're not wanting to be that open.
"If you are listening to this and that is you, I urge you to get support. Find it through resolve through a mental health professional. Understand the importance of this diagnosis and take care of yourself."
To learn more about RESOLVE and their resources, you can follow them on Facebook and find more information on their website, RESOLVE.org.
SEE THE VIDEO
Web articles from my time at Siouxland News.