For the last 31 years, I’ve related most, if not all, interesting and important things I've come across back to what I’ve dedicated my life to: helping people build their families. Specifically, people who are having trouble or need extra help building their families. More specifically, those faced with infertility or those in the LGBTQ community who need reproductive health services. The long paragraph below describe the fascinating history of how Women’s Equality Day came into being.
"At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 and passed in 1973, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities. Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place. "
What Does Women's Equality Day Mean to You?
Equality means different things to different people.
Consider this a semi-comprehensive look at equality, reproductive health and choice.
Remember the coloring book pages, from when you were a kid, where you carefully drew a line between dots that were labeled A, B, C, all the way through Z? And if you followed the alphabet, at the end, magically it seemed, an image appeared that was not at all apparent in the beginning. Sometimes it was a landscape scene, sometimes it was an animal. I always remember the pony, for some reason.
Consider that’s what I’m going to do in this blog, if you follow from A to Z, you’ll end up seeing a pony, a full picture of equality and reproductive choice.
Women’s Equality Day. And Infertility.
What do you need to know to truly be best represented or aware? From A-Z, the world of infertility.
- Awareness of our own reproductive systems, what are red or green flags to know about? (Bonus—Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is the best indicator of ovarian reserve.) (Extra Bonus—acupuncturist! Find one who has infertility expertise.)
- Break the silence--find ways to talk about your fertility experience.
- Cancer, fertility preservation and the law—each state needs to follow Connecticut’s example as the first state mandating coverage for those about to undergo fertility changing treatment. (Bonus—fertility coach or counselor, if ever there’s a time where we need a little extra help, it’s with infertility.)
- Defining infertility—It’s reproductive disease, remove discriminatory language to include those in the LGBTQ+ community who will need to use reproductive programs and who also deserve fertility insurance.
- Equal access to fertility care—that includes single people, LGBTQ+ people, people without insurance or who live in states with no mandate. (Bonus—embryo testing to reduce inheritable diseases and increase chances for a healthy pregnancy!)
- Fertile Yoga—of course I had to put this in here! Phase 1 of Fertile Yoga study was accepted by ASRM for 2019 conference. Phase 2 of Fertile Yoga research is beginning in September, 2019.
- Gestational surrogacy—Support gestational carrier bills in every state!
- Health insurance—covering reproductive disease like all other diseases.
- Infertility—A new definition that excludes references to “exposure to sperm” or any other discriminatory language towards LGBTQ+ community.
- Jokes—Enough already with the April Fools, “I’m pregnant!” joke! Please, for ever and ever and EVER.
- Kindness--Maybe you'll notice this is the longest entry. Because as important as all the other dots are to connect, being kind to yourself through your fertility journey, is first and foremost. It’s tempting to think of yourself as damaged, broken or just not quite a woman. It’s how we feel! But, we are not our infertility. We are strong, healthy women facing a serious health problem. No shame. No stigma. Strong and healthy.
- Luteal phase defect--This term is rarely used anymore, but understanding our own reproductive cycle, before, during and after ovulation is imperative to a successful pregnancy.
- Male Factor—accounts for up to %40 of all fertility diagnoses. Get sperm checked if you’re trying with a partner.
- Nutrition—eat a fertile healthy food plan, or better yet, meet with a nutritionist specializing in infertility.
- Ovarian reserve—Factor your family building in along with career, travel plans and owning a house, decreasing your odds of being the 1 in 8 who suffer from infertility.
- PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)—Easy asks, more federal funding for research, make September PCOS Awareness Month. (Bonus: prenatal vitamins, 90 days preconception!)
- Quick—What’s the time line to try to become pregnant at home? Great Question! 12 months if you are under 35 or 6 months if you are over 35. (If you don’t have known risk factors.)
- Two for one… RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Resolve New England—2 patient, not for profit organizations to use for resources and help.
- State Mandates—Make sure you’re aware of whether your state offers something specifically and/or support efforts in your state to add one.
- Testing—Checking for reproductive problems such as uterine abnormalities, Endometriosis, PCOS, Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR).
- Uterine health—What birth control methods to use, best ways to avoid STIs and how to preserve your fertility until you are ready to become pregnant. (Bonus--unexplained infertility accounts for up to %20-30 of those faced with infertility, even though there’s not a clear answer, you still need and deserve help!)
- VOTE—Notice the capital letters. Know or check whether your legislators support family building when help is necessary by checking their records—have they voted to support legislation?
- Women of color—We need to fight actively against discrimination and belief systems that may limit or restrict access to fertility care. Check out Fertility For Colored Girls and Broken Brown Egg.
- Xeniatrophobia—Face your fear! This word literally means “the fear of seeing doctors you don’t know”. Board certified reproductive endocrinologists are the experts in the field of infertility, they will offer you the best possibility of a healthy pregnancy.
- You. You are not damaged, you are not less than, you are not incapable. Make one small change in how you see yourself.
- Zig-zag—Expect it, along with ups and downs with infertility and fertility treatment as a direct line is rarely how it goes.
True equality must include understanding our own reproductive health. That means connecting the dots, including the myriad of aspects that are crucial to reproductive autonomy, including how long you should wait before seeking professional help in conceiving, what PCOS stands for and how to find out if you have it, and why a “joke” can hurt an infertile friend.
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