National Infertility Awareness Week takes place April 18-24. Unfortunately, anyone can be challenged to have a family. No matter what race, religion, sexuality, or economic status you are, infertility doesn’t discriminate. Chances are, someone you know is dealing with infertility. Whether you are on your infertility journey or have a loved one impacted by infertility, find ways to be an advocate this year to help spread infertility awareness.
National Infertility Awareness Week
National Infertility Awareness Week, or NIAW, was established by the National Infertility Association to remove the stigmas and barriers that stand in the way of building families due to infertility. The collective efforts made by this movement make a difference to change the conversations around the issue of infertility.
This year, NIAW is hosting a one-hour virtual event on April 22, 2021, 8:00 PM EST. Hosted by actress and “Egg-vocate” Kellee Stewart, the event will explore the power of stories with expert Christine D’Ercole and other fertility advocates from across the country, along with many more featured guests. RSVP to hear what people have to say about why infertility is not just a serious disease, but a fight for a dream.
You can also participate in National Infertility Awareness Week by using the hashtag #NIAW2021 and while sharing your infertility story. There is also a NIAW 5-day photo challenge you can participate in, which includes the following hashtags:
- 4/19/21 – #LetsGetReelAboutIF
- 4/20/21 – #IRepresentSomeoneWho
- 4/21/21 – #WearOrange
- 4/22/21 – #WhatIWantYouToKnow
- 4/23/21 – #RESOLVEStrong
How to Spread Infertility Awareness
The first step to being an advocate for infertility awareness is taking the time to educate yourself. Though you might not have first-hand experience with the topic, learn the basics of infertility. Some main topics to start with are IVF, surrogacy, male infertility, fertility treatment for LGBTQ families, and primary vs. secondary infertility. Being prepared can help if a friend comes to you wanting to vent or share their story – it will make it easier for you to both understand amd have a conversation with them.
Once you have educated yourself on infertility, use your knowledge to be aware of the common myths surrounding infertility. Instead of repeating these common misconceptions, try to share facts and statistics with others who may not be as educated as you are on the topic of infertility. This will give your friends confidence that you support them and take their condition seriously.
Remember, it is important to spread infertility awareness every day, not just during National Infertility Awareness Week!
Ways to Provide Infertility Support to Loved Ones
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends with infertility what they need! They might not be vocal about their needs because they might be wary of being a “burden,” or they may be feeling insecure or too overwhelmed to even ask. Sometimes the most effective strategy to offer infertility support starts with asking a friend, “What can I do to help support you?” They might not want to open up right away, but knowing they have a shoulder to lean on is already a huge support.
The infertility journey can be a tough one to navigate. Whether your friend has decided to pursue fertility treatments, has chosen a surrogate, or has decided to adopt, celebrate the victories, no matter how small! Bringing extra positivity to their life can boost overall wellness and decrease stress, both of which connect to infertility. Celebrations help individuals feel loved and supported throughout their journey and battle with infertility.
While National Infertility Awareness Week is a great time to spread awareness and support, isn’t the only time to check in on those in your life who experience infertility challenges. On holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day or big events such as back-to-school season, make an extra effort to check in with your loved ones who cannot become parents. Remember to check in and send love and support to your friends experiencing infertility all year round!
One of the biggest ways you can support your friends with infertility is simply by listening to them. Don’t be so quick to offer unsolicited advice – to those who experience infertility challenges, these tidbits of advice may feel condescending or repetitive, as if you are assuming they haven’t done their own research. Infertility is complex and affects every individual differently. Even fertility experts haven’t figured out how to help every couple have a baby yet.
More than anything, your friend with infertility want to hear that their feelings and emotions associated with infertility are valid! There are no right or wrong ways to handle any of the challenges infertility can bring because everyone copes in their own unique ways. Offer infertility support by acknowledging their feelings and reinforcing that they aren’t facing this struggle alone.
There are so many ways to support your friends with infertility. Meaningful gestures go a long way, whether it’s offering to attend difficult appointments with them or simply picking up the phone to check in. Support that isn’t always perfect, but is constantly there, is better than no support at all. This National Infertility Awareness Week, help spread infertility awareness and show love and support to those going through their fertility journeys.