1 in 6 is Affected by Infertility - This Week is National Infertility Awareness Week

This week (April 21-27) marks National Infertility Awareness Week, NIAW, in the U.S. Do you know someone who is struggling?

“It can’t be very common; I don’t know anyone who has been struggling.”

“And if you have a fertility problem, you can just do IVF, right?”

“Or maybe then it just wasn’t meant to happen…”

There are a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to fertility struggles, both in terms of how common it is and how it affects people.

Do you know anyone with red hair? Well, that’s 1 in 100. Do you know anyone who is left-handed? That’s 1 in 10. Infertility affects 1 in 6, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

So, if you aren’t struggling to have a baby yourself, you probably still know someone who is. The stigma surrounding infertility makes it something that is rarely talked about in society, though, making it seem like it’s not that much of a problem.

And how about IVF being that golden ticket? Well, on average, it takes 3 IVF treatments to succeed, but that’s only the average. Some people are trying for years and years, still with no luck. Unfortunately, infertility comes with no guarantees of success. With a global average cost of $10,000+ per treatment, the stress of infertility is not only dependent on desperately wanting to have a child; the financial stress is real as well - and sometimes means that IVF is not an option at all.

Tilly was founded by two former fertility patients, and one of our main goals is to help break the stigma around fertility struggles by opening up the conversation about it and ensuring fertility patients all over the world get the support they need. With fertility patients experiencing stress levels and anxiety on par with people facing a cancer diagnosis, it’s time that we start talking about this and make it a well-known fact.

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) was founded in 1989 by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in the U.S. Its mission is to empower you and change the conversation around infertility. This year's theme is “leave your mark.”

Well, here are three areas where Tilly would like to contribute to leaving a mark and creating lasting change when it comes to the conversation about fertility:

  1. We urge schools to start educating students about fertility, not only how to prevent pregnancies but also that a successful pregnancy is not a given. There is so much we are not taught about fertility, conception, and especially about the female body: how it works, how common issues like PCOS and Endometriosis are, and how they can affect fertility.
  2.  The pill is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, but you should at least be informed that when you are on the pill, you do not have a natural period, and that being on the pill can mask a lot of potential fertility risk factors. If you are on the pill, you do not still have a real period until you stop taking them - and without a period, no natural conception.
  3.  The mental roller-coaster of infertility and fertility treatments is tough, so much so that the number one reason to stop treatment is the mental toll it takes. We believe it’s time to include mental and emotional support for all fertility patients. This should be the normal support - not something that a few high-end clinics offer. (And yes, of course, Tilly is here to support all of those clinics who are already taking steps to embed this into their regular care).

We also want to celebrate that even if we still have a long way to go, there are also so many beautiful initiatives within fertility health and patient care. Below are just a few of our favourites. Go, go, go, all of you who are hard at work creating a better world for preventing and solving fertility problems and also making sure those who struggle get the best care.

- RESOLVE: the U.S national association for Infertility - the founder of NIAW.

- The Institute of Reproductive Grief Care - (Psst, if you are unfortunate enough to be touched by pregnancy loss, we can recommend joining their latest research study to contribute to better care for other miscarriage patients. Read more here.)

- Ovulai is on a mission to educate and support women with PCOS.

- And of course, all of those clinics out there that every day strive to give their patients both the best medical care but also the best emotional support.

Take care everyone, Jenny Ann Johnson, founder of Tilly, and former fertility patient.

About the author

Jenny Ann Johnson is the founder of Tilly. She’s spent a decade working on digital educational products prior to founding Tilly. After struggling with infertility and miscarriages for many years she finally found her path forward and is today blessed with four children. She is now creating the supportive and educational tools she herself was missing while going through fertility treatments.


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