This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, sponsored by the incredible organization, RESOLVE. 1 in 8 couples in the United States experience issues with fertility. That's an incredible amount of people in the United States, who, in my opinion, get very little support for the frustrating, often heart breaking times they endure. Infertility plagues people of all races, both male and female, and all sexual orientations, religions, and abilities. It is truly a disorder that should be at the forefront of our research.
Many couples who go through diagnosis of infertility experience a lot of shame. I truly believe, as Brene Brown states, that shame comes from the feeling of isolation, the feeling that we are alone in whatever we are going through. I would never ask a couple going through infertility to 'out' themselves if they didn't want to. Everyone deals with this process in their own way. Instead, this is a time for everyone else to come together and voice support of those people struggling with infertility. Awareness and love can be spread through our communities in a way that is non-assuming, gentle, and supportive. We can come together for these friends and family members in our community.
What can you do for these friends and family?
Let them know that you're there for them, and then BE there for them. Depending on your relationship and what they need in the moment, this may look like caring for their other kids while they are at appointments or grieving; coming over when they call because they are so frustrated, angry, or sad; going to hard appointments with them or meeting them afterwards; and so many other things- the main point is to ask "what do you need?". If they say they don't know, let them know that when they do know what they need, that you're there for them.
I see everything going on in the world right now, and I look around and still believe that we can do this. We can do this human family. We can pull together, act with kindness, love and grace. We can be there for each other. All we have to do is live today that way, then wake up tomorrow, and do the same.
Dr. Jen Riegle is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) who practices in Santa Rosa, CA. Dr. Jen specializes in women's health, infertility, and oncofertility. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to make an appointment, you may schedule on our website or by calling (707)-243-8998.