By Guest Blogger Lisa Doss with Forsyth Family magazine

This year, National Infertility Week® has been designated from April 23rd – April 29th, 2017. National Infertility Awareness Week®, (NIAW) is not just a week of awareness; it’s also a movement. It’s a movement to reduce stigma, educate the public about reproductive health and issues, and empower those who have been affected by – and continue to struggle with – infertility. NIAW encourages everyone to get involved and build awareness in their respective communities. More information can be found on the NAIW website HERE. ~ Katie

Labels can be very challenging, especially when the word is “infertility.” It is a medical condition which effects one out of eight women. Being part of that statistic, I was comforted that I was not alone. In fact, acquaintances and strangers reached out and told me their story, too. After two-and-a-half years of trying to conceive, I regretted waiting so long. It felt reassuring to be in the hands of professionals. Finding a fertility clinic is quite easy; however, it is important to find the right staff who can go through those wonderful and tearful moments with you. Yes, with treatment, infertility can become a miraculous experience, combining God and science. It also can be sorrowful and unexplainable.

Over the last five years, I have listened to many women question their bodies in their own journey through infertility. As an advocate, I encourage all women to find out why they have been unable to conceive naturally. While there is a higher percentage of success for women under 40, women are getting pregnant in their 40s and oftentimes delivering twin blessings.

If we listen to extreme situations of infertility, women like the “Octomom” and “Kate Plus Eight” may come to mind; however, more celebrities are openly sharing their stories with the public, and we sympathize with their struggles in wanting to become parents. Each of us knows someone who may even silently endure trying without finding answers or success.  The purpose of National Infertility Awareness Week  is to educate and encourage the public regarding reproductive health. From April 23rd– 29th, each of us can reach out to our family members and friends, in some special way, and offer support.

Nancy Teaff, MD, a Reproductive Endocrinologist in Charlotte, stated, “Couples are often surprised at the amount of time it can take to get pregnant, once the decision to start a family has been made. For normal healthy couples, it is not uncommon for several months to go by before pregnancy is achieved; however, about seven million women aged 15 to 44 will need help conceiving. Many women do not realize that their fertility declines after the age of 35. Women over 35 have less time to spare, since there is a dramatic decline in egg quality and quantity. After six-months of trying without success, couples should seek the assistance of a reproductive endocrinologist.”

Many couples have questions about the process, treatment, and other alternatives. Here are the facts:

  • Men and women both can cause infertility separately and as a couple. To receive assistance, couples must agree to seek help together. Each will be evaluated to determine the problem and offered the best recommended treatment(s).
  • Advice on limiting stress, eating different foods, or taking a vacation are helpful to fertility; however, infertility is a medical condition that requires understanding, patience and treatment.
  • Pregnancy does not happen the moment a woman begins taking fertility medications. For each woman or couple, the journey is different.
  • Not every couple needs to go through In-vitro fertilization, or IVF. Clomid and Femara, with or without artificial insemination, are medicated and procedural treatments that have assisted women in becoming pregnant.
  • Infertility can become a “life crisis” and affect many areas in a couple’s life. Couples who want to become parents have numerous options beyond fertility treatments, but sitting down with an endocrinologist is a starting point. Many who consider adoption can even explore adopting a frozen embryo. Traditional adoptions are a wonderful opportunity for couples to receive a healthy baby. If treatments are unsuccessful, a fertility center can discuss and explore other options.

As you consider your influence in promoting “National Infertility Awareness,” the message is clear: “No effort is too small. The infertility community is building a strong grassroots movement all over the country. Take a moment to think about what this movement means to you.” We all have different ways to approach difficult and sensitive topics; however, in the month of April, and especially from April 23rd—29th, take the time to spread the word among your family and friends, and through your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. No woman or couple has to suffer from infertility. There are answers. A united voice is needed to spread the word.