A Week of Awareness Around Trying to Conceive: NIAW
This week, for the twenty-fourth year, NIAW springs to life.
NIAW stands for National Infertility Awareness Week, started by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association in 1989.
It’s really not a celebration. We don’t celebrate infertility. We take this week to bring awareness about the medical, emotional and financial challenges of infertility. When NIAW started twenty-four years ago, raising awareness was much more of a problem than it is now.
Now we can ask folks to share on Facebook, talk on Internet chat rooms, write on blogs (like this one), tweet, post on Pintrest and more. Twenty-four years ago, it was much more grass roots. Getting the information in newsletters and having doctors’ offices put it in the waiting rooms. Trying to get celebrities to talk about it and hope for media coverage. Put up posters in libraries.
How to Bring Awareness to Infertility Challenges
What can you do this week to bring awareness to infertility challenges? Here are some suggestions to bring awareness in a public way:
- Talk about it with a friend, family member or colleague that you have not shared with before. It’s a risk, I know. You may find out that you have opened the door to someone who is having similar problems.
- Write something about your own experience and share it where you feel comfortable or go a step further and share it where you’ve previously felt uncomfortable.
- Offer your help to RESOLVE, volunteer!
- Pledge to join in on Advocacy Day, May 8th, in Washington, D.C. Read more about Advocacy Day on PathtoFertility blog.
- Find a peer support group and make the commitment to go to the next meeting. Your presence can offer comfort and support to someone else going through similar troubles.
For many of us, infertility is something that is private. Bringing awareness to an issue that we are not willing to discuss is difficult. If you are one of the people out there who are not sharing their infertility struggles with friends and family, you are not alone. Consider more private ways to bring awareness. Is there a way that you can raise your own awareness? Here are a couple of ideas:
- Read some information on reputable websites so that you are as informed as possible. Some suggestions: ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine), SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
- Add a form of meditation to your life. It may mean sitting quietly or it could be a walk.
- Notice how infertility is affecting you. How it’s affecting your relationships. How it’s affecting your job.
- Give yourself a break. Put aside some time each day where you focus on something other than infertility.
- Consider finding a mental health professional (therapeutic counselor). Talk about how you’re feeling in a private place where you feel safe and comfortable.
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system, recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as such.
Goals for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)
Here are the goals that RESOLVE has put forth this year for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW):
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association founded this movement and continues to work with the professional family building community, corporate partners, and the media to:
- ensure that people trying to conceive know the guidelines for seeing a specialist when they are trying to conceive.
- enhance public understanding that infertility is a disease that needs and deserves attention.
- educate legislators about the disease of infertility and how it impacts people in their state.
In 2010 National Infertility Awareness Week became a federally recognized health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Thank you to everyone who finds the courage to bring awareness to infertility this week. Whether it is something you do publically or privately, it helps.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
RESOLVE: National Infertility Awareness Week
Next week is NIAW. National Infertility Awareness Week.
Started by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Awareness Association. RESOLVE, as an organization, began in 1974, with Barbara Eck Menning. Barbara founded RESOLVE, at least in part, as a response to her own infertility and her awareness that men and women experiencing this disease needed three things. Education, support and advocacy.
And that’s what RESOLVE has done for almost 40 years.
I started volunteering with RESOLVE shortly after the organization began NIAW. I remember participating in some of the earliest versions of NIAW as a director of RESOLVE of NYC. I remember the excitement that I felt, the awe, of shining the light on a problem that so severely affected me. The understanding that it might impact someone else facing similar challenges and uncertainty.
To echo RESOLVE’s words. I am. I want. I support.
I am. I want. I support.
I am someone who experienced the daily stress and medical, emotional and spiritual issues of infertility.
I want all people to be able to have the ability to understand infertility, have access to medical help, know where to turn for emotional support and know that infertility is a disease and should be recognized and treated as such.
I support RESOLVE and men and women experiencing infertility by continuing to write about important, pertinent issues, by working with RMACT and helping bring peer support groups (Ladies Night In), teaching Fertile Yoga and continuing the dialogue about this disease which impacts so many men and women.
NIAW Events: Stamford Hospital's Fairfield County Women's Expo
A special call out for some of the events that have been created for NIAW. RMACT will be taking part at Stamford Hospital's Fairfield County Women’s Expo, for the fourth year in a row, making sure that infertility is part of the conversation. Although the Expo has a ten dollar cost, in honor of NIAW, RMACT has free tickets available. Please call our 800.865.5431 number and ask for them. They are in our Norwalk, Danbury, Stamford and Trumbull offices.
SHOW DATES & HOURS:
Saturday, April 27, 2013, 11 - 5 and Sunday, April 28, 2013, 11 - 5
Stamford Plaza Hotel: 2701 Summer Street, Stamford, CT
Admission price is $10.00, kids 12 and under are free. FREE indoor parking.
Free Teleseminar: Seven Days to an Easier Way
A woman that I am honored to call friend, Kristen Magnacca, will be holding a Nationwide - Free Teleseminar: 7 Days to an Easier Way - 12:00PM ET on April 22nd. Details:
Please join our FREE NIAW noontime Teleseminar on April 22: Seven Days to an Easier Way. Learn how to live a fully fertile life, as well as new ways to love yourself while trying to create your family. Every participant receives a FREE copy of my CD, Everyday Certainty. More info at the link and register at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to "see" you there!
Center Families Presents: LGBT Family Building Expo
Please join Dr. Leondires and the Gay Parents To Be team at the LGBT Family Building Expo hosted by Center Families in New York City. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about all aspects of family building for gay and lesbian individuals/couples interested in having a baby.
- Panel discussions on all aspects of family building, including medical, legal, psychological and financial
- Personal stories from parents
- “The Doctor Is In” – free medical consultation (by appointment only)
- Lunchtime sessions and “Cocktails With Content” with celebrity guests
DATE & HOURS:
Saturday, April 27, 2013 ~ 11am – 8pm
208 W. 13th Street, New York, NY
Cost: $35.00 for general public; FREE for Center members
Contact Center Families at 212.620.7310 or email@example.com.
Next week, at PathtoFertility, all blogs will be devoted to NIAW.
Thanks for joining the conversation.
Lisa Rosenthal's Google+
Image Credit: RESOLVE.org
Resolve - The National Infertiltiy Association's Advocacy Day
I'm really excited to share information here from Resolve - The National Infertility Association. While each of us has to find our own path when it comes to infertility, there is much that we have in common. One thing that we have in common is that we do not need to travel that path alone. There is help. Resolve helps. And when we put our voices together, we help one another, whether we have ever met personally or not.
If insurance coverage and general understanding of infertility as a medical problem is something that concerns you, please consider how you can help on May 8. If you are able to go, your presence will be deeply appreciated. If you are able to support this effort in another way, that will be most welcome as well.
There are very few things that I have attended or supported in my life that I have felt more proud of then the events like this one in the past that I have gone to. I have seen first hand, through state mandates for infertility coverage to changing language in bills, what using our voices collectively can do.
Me? I'm going to do my best to get there this year. Anyone want to join me? ~ Lisa
It's time for Members of Congress to understand the needs of the infertility community.
Advocacy Day is a RESOLVE event where women and men living with infertility come together in Washington, D.C. to talk to Members of Congress about issues important to our community. RESOLVE holds this annual event so you have a chance to make your voice heard. We will make your appointments for you and provide you with the training and information you need for this day of empowerment. Advocacy Day is a great opportunity to meet RESOLVE leaders and others from the infertility community who want to make a difference.
RESOLVE's Advocacy Day
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, Washington, D.C.
Register today for this very special event!
Infertility Conference TakeAways
I refuse to even mention the weather. Or the snow. So onto another topic for today.
It felt like old times last Saturday at an infertility conference. With new faces, friends from the past, familiar topics and more information than could be reasonably digested in one day. It felt like old times, updated tremendously.
It could only be a RESOLVE conference. RESOLVE New England, to be exact.
Amazing how some things never change. I remember quite well planning conferences like the one I attended on Saturday. The scope of topics, with dedicated tracks; fertility treatment, donor options and adoption. The amount of talented, informed speakers, designing the workshops, creating a schedule of fewest conflicts possible, coordinating it all.
And RESOLVE NE made it look easy. They did a fabulous job.
It takes a dedicated crew to pull it off. Congratulations to RESOLVE of NE--their Executive Director Erin Lasker (who maintained a gentle but strong presence that day; she remained calm and levelheaded in the midst of all the commotion of a complicated and successful conference!), Director of Marketing and Education Naomi Goldman, Director of Operations Beth Smith and Director of Communications and Social Media Keiko Zoll; their board members, including President Amy Demma, Past President Beth Panella, Secretary Barbara Luciano and Treasurer Pam Odeen-Lodato, as well as Jennifer Burbridge, Elena Clamen, Amy Cook, Terri Davidson, Betsy Hochberg, Ramani Varasni; and Honorary Members Alma Berson, Bonny Gilbert and Barbara Wells. Volunteers were friendly, helpful, compassionate and informed. I didn't get lost once. And believe me, that's saying something when there are nine rooms with nine choices of topics and speakers.
Coping with Infertility Stress
Listening to Alice Domar, PhD, and having it confirmed, once again, just how stressful it is to deal with infertility. That it's as stressful as cancer. That infertility, in fact, covers all the bases of the most stresstful situations. Good to hear as well, that there are so many ways to make to help support patients. I love that Dr. Domar has research behind her ways of helping patients feel better. Ways that are proven effective. I also love that RMACT is doing so many of the things that we know support fertility patients. Acupuncture, massage, therapeutic counseling, Fertile Yoga, educational seminars, peer support groups and more. Dr. Domar discussed that yes, stress can also add to infertility, with some research behind it. Overwhelmingly though, the data shows how infertility causes stress and becomes a vicious cycle.
There was so much the other day, it's hard to recount it all.
Resolve NE 2012 Annual Conference
Some Resolve NE 2012 Annual Conference stand-outs:
- Dr. Camille Hammond's heartfelt talk about her own personal story and the building of a non-profit to help men and women with infertility afford treatment;
- An award accepted by State Senator Matthew Houde (D) of New Hampshire for ensuring that in New Hampshire homocide laws would not be enacted, threatening the creation of embryos. Yes, you actually read that correctly. Homocide laws were being considered that would encompass the creation and disposition of embryos;
- Panel of open, honest women sharing their personal stories about adoption and donor egg. Amazing to hear their journey to create their families. The perseverance and commitment from each of these families to create their families and the feeling that the road that they took brought them exactly the children that were intended for their families;
- Kristin Magnacca and Dr. Rob Kiltz spoke directly to patient support and how to make the time spent at a fertility practice an experience that feels more humane, more personal;
- The scientific, IVF informational workshops.
It was my honor and privilege to teach Fertile Yoga at the end of the day to a group of tired, overstimulated women. It was so gratifying to see their blissed out yoga faces at the end of the session.
Thank you RESOLVE of New England, for putting on such a stellar day. You should be very proud of yourselves. I know I am.
Fertile Yoga Outcomes: Talk of Rooting Down
It's all I've been talking about in Fertile Yoga lately.
Foundations. Four corners of the feet. Connection to the earth, through rooting down.
Rooting down, to rise up.
Foundation. It's what gives us the ability to rise up.
Looking Back At My Infertility Journey
My infertility journey began many years ago with Resolve. It wasn't about fertility. It was about understanding infertility.
Resolve saved my sanity and my marriage and many of my friendships.
Does that sound grandiose? Exaggerated, maybe?
I was 26 years old and wasn't getting pregnant. Most of my friends weren't even married, much less trying to have babies. It's not an exaggeration to say that Resolve saved my sanity. There was no internet then. No cell phones. Yes, it was that long ago. No internet. No chat rooms, no message boards. So, no, I'm not exaggerating when I say that Resolve saved my marriage and many friendships.
Oddly enough, it was through voluteering for Resolve that I found help. It was through answering the phone lines and stuffing envelopes and directing people at the infertility conferences.
My comfort was in sharing the wisdom that I had found about how to proceed through the life crisis that is infertility. The total irony was that I got so much more than I gave. The more that I gave, the more that I received.
I found hope and comfort. I found friends that understood what I was going through. I found a place that gave me a foundation from which to explore all my options.
Resolve was my foundation with infertility. It was the first place that I went that made me feel at home.
Circling Around to Resolve's 2012 Night of Hope
And here I am, circling around. Going tonight to Resolve's 2012 Night of Hope. I remember running their gala's with them. Working with them on conferences and suppport groups and legislation.
It is my honor and privilage to go this evening. Perhaps consider whether you would like to make a donation to this organization that has done so much for supporting us with our fertility journey. Without Resolve, many of us would not have the state mandates that are in place today. And so much more.
Irony rears it's head again. Tomorrow, Ladies Night In, peer support group -- Inspired by Resolve. Carrie Van Steen and I will be with you in Danbury, tomorrow night, October 3, 2012, from 6-7:30 p.m.
Won't you join us? Come to get comfort, support, help, even help finding your sense of humor. And you may find that as you receive these things, you are helping the woman next to you as well.
We're in this together. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Infertility Treatment Legislation: Close to Home
It may be tempting to dismiss this blog this morning because you don't live in New Hampshire and legislation that impacts infertility treatment may seem far afield. I encourage you to resist that urge. All over the country, fertility treatment is being threatened in the courts. What is happening in New Hampshire has happened in various forms in at least 11 states in the past six months.
Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), with RESOLVE, is supporting the advocacy around protecting our reproductive rights. Please read on for the specifics of what's happening in New Hampshire, straight from RESOLVE New England's website.
My sister lives and works in New Hampshire. I've asked her to write to her legislators. I've asked her to ask her friends and family up there to do the same. Think about how you can help.
New Hampshire Urgent Advocacy Alert
↓ Jump to the latest updates on HB 217 ↓
Attention New Hampshire Residents:
We need you to act today to protect IVF treatments in your state!
Advocacy Alert Details
- 5/2/12: The New Hampshire State Senate has moved to push back the vote on HB 217 until May 9th. We still urge NH residents to contact their State Senators in the interim to express just how damaging HB 217 would be if passed as written.
- 4/30/12: The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee passes an amendment to HB 217 that includes the following language:
- “[The bill] shall [not] apply to any act committed by the mother of the unborn child, to any medical procedure, including abortion, performed by a physician or other licensed medical professional at the request of the pregnant woman or her legal guardian, or to the lawful dispensation or administration of lawfully prescribed medication.”
- Defines “unborn child” as “human offspring from conception to birth”.
- Defines “conception” as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum”.
- Defines “pregnant” as a “female reproductive condition of having an unborn child in the woman’s body”.
Overview of Amendment HB 217-FN
It has come to our attention that a bill is being voted on May 9th, 2012 which would amend the current homicide law in the state of New Hampshire to include the death of an unborn child, where an unborn child is being defined from the moment of conception until birth. (“Conception” is being defined in this instance as the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.)
The destruction of an unborn child, as defined by this amendment, would be viewed as criminal homicide under the amended law.
Additionally, while this amendment makes provisions to exempt medical procedures performed by licensed medical professionals such as abortion, it is worded in such a way that excludes a recipient woman waiting for embryos to be transferred into her uterus, as this amendment defines a pregnant woman as one who has an unborn child within her body. Thus, under the language of the amended law, if any embryos are discarded prior to being transferred to her womb, neither she, her partner, her embryologist or her doctor would be protected by the law.
IVF Treatment Impacts
If this bill passes, IVF as we know it in New Hampshire could be in jeopardy since not all embryos survive the IVF treatment process. In addition, the cryopreservation of embryos could be at risk for New Hampshire residents with leftover embryos, since those embryos would be defined as an unborn child under this new amendment. If this bill passes as currently written, fertility clinics would have no legal recourse to proceed with standardized IVF practices.
More information about Amendment to HB 217-FN can be found online here. You can track HB 217′s progress online here.
National Infertility Awareness Week
National Infertility Awareness Week, brought to you by RESOLVE, brings awareness about infertility to those who need it. Those who need awareness, I mean. Those who have little sympathy or empathy or understanding about what infertility and reproductive health and disease mean for those of us who are struggling with it.
Chances are, if you are reading this, you are aware of infertility, reproductive health and fertility treatment.
Maybe I could bring a few things to light that you are not aware of.
Interesting Infertility Facts
For instance, did you know that 10-15% of all couples in the United States will experience infertility?
Did you know that healthy couples under the age of 30 have only a 25% chance of becoming pregnant each month?
Did you know that IVF (in vitro fertilization), depending on your age and diagnosis, can offer up to a 70% chance of becoming pregnant?
Did you know that achieving and maintaing a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) can improve your odds of becoming pregnant?
Did you know that sleeping enough is important, not only for your level of fatigue, but also for you to have healthy hormone levels?
Did you know that male factor infertility accounts for about 40% of fertility problems, while female infertility accounts for about 40% as well, with about 20% unexplained?
Did you know that there are state infertility insurance mandates in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York? Did you know that there are only 11 states that have any type of state mandate at all?
Did you know that there is a way for you--today--to let your legislators know that you support infertility coverage in your state?
Raise Infertility Awareness With Us
Could you help spread the word? Could you let those around you know that infertility is not a lifestyle choice or problem, but a reproductive health problem? Could you remind people that a health problem should have insurance coverage and not have to be paid for out of pocket?
Could you do one small thing about spreading infertility awareness today?
Let us know what you would feel comfortable doing. If you're not sure, then please seriously consider joining the RMACT team this Sunday, April 29, 2012 in Danbury, or next Sunday, May 6, 2012 in Stamford, to walk with us for the March of Dimes in support of healthy pregnancies. Click here for more information and to sign up to March for Babies.
Dr. Mark Leondires to Speak on Male Infertility for RESOLVE
April is a busy month for Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT. We're participating in many regional and national events, including the male infertility TeleSeminar, hosted by RESOLVE, with guest speaker Dr. Mark Leondires, RMACT's very own Medical Director. Please read below for details about attending this seminar, specifically on male factor infertility issues. RSVP's are necessary, so read through to the bottom of the blog to find out how to attend. Click here for a complete calendar of events upcoming at RMACT.
Male Factor Infertility TeleSeminar
Thursday, April 19, 2012
9:00PM ET/ 8:00PM CT/ 7:00PM MT/ 6:00PM PT
Male Factor Infertility From the Man’s Perspective
Infertility is not just a woman's issue
Guest Speaker: Dr. Mark P. Leondires
Medical Director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT)
Topics to be covered during this session are:
Dr. Mark P. Leondires is the Medical Director and lead infertility doctor with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), and is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
RSVP online for this male factor TeleSeminar.
RESOLVE's TeleSeminar Series occurs on the first and third Thursday of each month at 9:00PM Eastern time during 2012; all are free of charge. RESOLVE works with our corporate partners and professional members to provide you with the latest research, tips, and advice to help you resolve your infertility. Check out the TeleSeminar schedule here.
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
In order to continue to be able to provide free programs and support groups as well as low-cost educational programs, we encourage you to visit our web site to learn more on how you can support RESOLVE's mission.
As a volunteer non-profit consumer organization, RESOLVE is committed to providing unbiased information and support. Participation as a sponsor or presenter at this event does not imply endorsement by RESOLVE for any person or entity in any fashion. RESOLVE encourages its members to be educated consumers and to fully investigate any and all information available on the options available or presented to them.
For more information on local events, support groups, electronic bulletin boards, and other information relevant to your family building journey, please visit RESOLVE online.
Again, to attend "Male Factor Infertility From the Man's Perspective," on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 9 p.m. RSVP online.
Infertility Basics tomorrow on PathtoFertility.
Today, I’d like to remind you of some things coming up next weekend. This week is NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week), created by Resolve: The National Infertility Association.
It's Bust a Myth Year for NIAW. Easy topic. There are so many myths that are floating out there.
Here are a few :
- You are the only person in your group of friends faced with infertility problems
- Because you're young, you're immune to infertility problems
- Not getting pregnant in the first year means you will never get pregnant
- Adopting will get you pregnant
- It's your fault that you're struggling with infertility because of any number of things that you've done in your past, including using birth control, having an abortion or having had a sexually transmitted disease
- You can only get pregnant if you have IVF treatment- nothing else works
- Getting your period regularly means that you are ovulating and therefore there is no problem
- You don't really want to have a baby
- If you have one child, the next one will come easily
- You have mixed feelings and that's why you're not getting pregnant
- God doesn't want you to have a baby
- If you relax, you'll get pregnant
- Your fertility starts to decline at 40 (try 25 for the first drop, and then 35 for the next one)
And on and on and on.
What's your favorite infertility myth? Perhaps something you've always wondered about? Is it a myth or fact?
With all the conversation about health care reform, are there any questions in your mind about infertility coverage and your fertility specialists? The conversation is taking place,
certainly in the media, although not in a big way. There’s an article here or there. I read an article this morning, in Kaiser Health News. Google alerts brought it up for me automatically given that it was on infertility.
Here’s what I learned. The Institute of Medicine has a panel of experts who are considering whether infertility coverage, among other things, should be included or not in a national health care plan. Their recommendations will go to the Department of Health and Human Services.
I also read, referred to in this article, about a study that Resolve worked on with Mercer Health and Benefits, in 2006, polling employers titled, “Employer experience with, and attitudes toward, coverage of infertility treatment”.
Really interesting stuff. Given that so few employers (only about 20%), offer coverage of fertility treatment, I would think that this would be at the forefront right now in the infertility field. Here’s our opportunity to see that those affected with infertility would be covered so that finances would not be a reason one could not have treatment.
This is really huge. So how come it’s so quiet? That is not a rhetorical question. How come it’s so quiet? Where are the patient advocacy and education groups on this subject? Resolve, The American Fertility Association, INCIID and more? And, at the risk of getting everyone angry, where are the other advocates and educators? There are millions, no exaggeration, of websites and blogs on infertility. How to support, educate, advocate; all those things are there on millions and millions of websites and blogs. How come we’re not coming together on this issue?
Don’t we have a real opportunity at this moment where history may be made to make sure that infertility is included in this health care plan? Am I missing something? Being naïve? Don’t we want to have infertility and fertility treatment covered? Is there someone in the driver’s seat and I don’t know who that is?
I would like to hear from my friends, readers, patients and colleagues about whether you agree with me about the importance of this moment and whether you would join me in creating a voice that would be heard. If I need to add my voice to a group that’s all ready started, sign me up, I’m there.
Let’s not miss the boat on this. If only 20% of employers choose to fertility treatment, that leaves an awful lot of us with no coverage and that needs to change. With the possibility of a national health care reform plan going into action, I want infertility covered.