Let’s Stop Ignoring Infertility

Over a million IVF babies have been born since Louise Brown made her debut in England in 1978. These are the children of the one-in-ten couples who experience infertility and refuse to give up on their dreams of family. They are the sons and daughters we’ve always wanted and deserve. Their life affirming presence is testimony to the fact that infertility is a disease that can be conquered and should never be ignored, or pushed into a dark closet of shame and denial. I have been advocating for people who struggle with infertility for a long time. I have been talking about infertility for almost half of my life. I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility at the age of 24. I went from shame-faced, to advocate by the time I was 27.

We won’t talk about my age now, but it is safe to say that I have been representing infertility patients for better than two decades. I have been featured in major media outlets talking about the pain of infertility, the cost of infertility, varieties of infertility experience, our embryos, new procedures, the children of the infertile, coping with the holidays, preventions, cloning, stem cell research, ovulation, aging and reproduction, and the need for insurance companies to routinely include coverage for infertility treatments. The public relations firms that I have worked with over the years have done the same.

Eight years ago, I tried to add up all of the interviews I had done, and it added up to 2,500! I have written and lectured. I have literally shouted about the cause of infertility from the steps of the capitol to a room full of state senators, and during Christmas on The Today Show, and talked about doctors that followed best practices. Yet, right after that appearance, I visited with a top Republican aide about federal legislation for infertility. During our chat, this aide turned to me and said, “Infertility? Doesn’t that only happen to anorexics?” Hello? Is anybody listening? Is anybody out there? Infertile couples are still not being heard. Even with so many infertility advocates our there, and wonderful organizations like RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association – who is in the midst of launching yet another National Infertility Awareness Week being honored this week from April 22-28, 2012 – the trying to conceive remain just tiny blips on the world screen. But this is the week that we raise our collective voices and shout “We are here! We are Here!” Just like the “Who” that lives down in “Whoville” from one of those Dr. Seuss books.

The infertile have stopped being silent a long time ago. Now we are turning up the volume. It’s time to extend access to care to everyone. Here are some facts: Infertility prevents people from creating a family – one of the most fundamental and highly valued human activities. A United States Supreme Court decision concluded that reproduction is a major life activity as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Infertility affects people of all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. Infertility is a medical condition, not a sexual problem and not a curse. Infertility does not equate to sexual dysfunction. Infertile people are just as virile and beautiful as everybody else. Infertility can put a couple on hold.

It is a life-stopping crisis that can affect everything a couple does, from job performance to self esteem, to important decisions such as buying a house or taking a new job. Infertility affects more than one in ten people of reproductive age around the world. It affects both men and women in about equal numbers. The mean age of those seeking infertility treatment is about 32. As with other serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease, infertility can lead to depression and anxiety, affecting job performance and productivity, as well as relationships with family and friends. There are few areas of medicine that have advanced as rapidly as infertility treatment in the past two decades. Infertility treatment is provided by reproductive endocrinologists who are specialists in reproductive health. Though most people associate treatment with “high tech” procedures such as in vitro fertilization, approximately only two percent of patients actually need these treatments. Infertile couples achieve families with the assistance of a vast array of increasingly refined medical therapies and treatments including surrogacy and sperm donation. People can survive infertility, but it is time for them to thrive through infertility.

This can only happen when all of us stop ignoring infertility. So let’s raise our collective voices and speak the truth about infertility. Infertility is not a sign, curse or punishment. It’s a disease that can be prevented, treated and cured. We’ve got over a million kids to prove it.

What To Do After Reading This Article:

Check out Pamela Madsen’s Fertility Blog: The Fertility Advocate for a wonderful list of important resources for anyone struggling with infertility.

Learn about Pamela Madsen’s fertility coaching practice.

Please leave a comment, like this article, and share it with your social networks.


natasha b.
Past Member 2 years ago

I have no words to express my gratitude, Eka the great priest of Eka kingdom...I have fought with infertility issues for more than a decade. My Gyn told a year ago that one of my tubes was blocked, and had insisted that IVF was the only option left for me. I was desperate and terrified due to my relatively advanced age (I was 38 a year ago) and the 2 ovarian cysts that were giving me hell, that I would be childless. My husband and I decided we will keep on fighting as I have read many awful stories about the side effects, the low success rates and pain involved with the IVF procedure so we kept looking for a way out to have a child of our own. We almost gave up and then I found the email of priest Eka (dreka14demons@gmail.com) and I emailed he for help and he told me all what I will do for him to cast me a pregnancy and pregnancy protection spell. And kindly I immediately ordered him to do all the needful for me to get pregnant and I did everything Eka said along with my husband who had poor sperm motility. After two months of trying I got pregnant with my first baby boy. With one blocked tube and 2 ovarian cysts, I think this is nothing short of a miracle! I will thank Eka for everything, Contact him (dreka14demons@gmail.com)

Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Lori B.
Lori B6 years ago

What I just don't understand is that people look down on you if you buy a pet from a pet store and actual animal breeders are shunned. You MUST go to a shelter. There are also pet adoptions constantly being advertised & going on. But know one really talks about all the actual human children that need adopting. We need to get adoption way out in the open. Start talking about it as THE MOST HONORABLE CHOICE. It also needs to be WAY cheaper. I have heard of women spending over $40K to adopt a child. WHAT?!?!? That is insane!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W6 years ago

Some people want children and some simply don't...

Melissa D.
Melissa D.6 years ago

I love the "don't be selfish" comments on here. It is truly inspiring that so many people want to save the environment from infertile people having one or two children to make the world better for their own children and grandchildren. I am sure every infertile who reads these uplifting comments about the need to not over populate to preserve the world for other posters' children and grandchildren will see the error in their thinking.

Many infertile people, and fertile people too, do adopt. Stating "I'm infertile," does not preclude the desire to adopt. It is simply stating "I'm infertile." And to the woman who adopted 4 kids after having a biological baby, what makes you think other infertile people are not doing the same.

Suzanne Osborne
Suzanne Osborne6 years ago

Not worth spending tax £s on as we do in the UK - it's not an illness.

Michaela C.

Give birth is not a human right it is a blessing. Some of us can and some can't and that we have to respect. The couple combination maybe wrong in the way naturecode are for a safe and sound baby. If medical problem, thats that and if big love, help one unwanted child to a good life and stop feel sorry for your self. This seam to be hard words but there are more in life to be happy about if we try to accept the fact we can't change. (The world have allready problem feeding us as long as people eat all the meat they do)

Christina Virago
Christina Virago6 years ago

It seems to me that the underlying issue of infertility; that of over pollution and what is charmingly called "population pressure" is ignored; animals who overpopulate to the point of environmental degradation don't reproduce, because there are not the resources to bring the young to maturity: does this ring some bells for anyone? I can empathise with the desire to have children, and I'm certainly very honoured to have brought mine into the world, and in all honesty I fear for the world into which my grandchildren are growing and the mess they have inherited from mine and my parent's generations: that's really all it took: two generations to completely stuff up our environment to the point where it can no-longer effectively support us. Adoption is a wonderful option, even if, as Terri says, they are not newborns or hale and hearty at delivery.

Terri M.
Terri M6 years ago

Being infertile can come from quite a number of different causes but it is not true that the infertile cannot have a family. That is nonsense. There have always been infertility but many don't discover the issue until they start trying to conceive in their 30s or 40s. Yes, you can have a family. There is adoption.

I don't want to hear any of the tired old lie that it is sooooo hard to adopt. Yes, my husband and I have one birth child but we decided that we would complete a large family through adopting special needs kids. Sure, if you insist on a 100% white and 100% NEWBORN, you may find a shortage but let me tell you, go in and tell them that you will be glad to adopt a black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or mixed race child who is 5 or up and who might have special needs such as a Down syndrome or child with cerebral palsy or who has a couple of siblings, and you will find yourself choosing from hundreds of kids, all precious and wonderful, who need parents and a loving home right now. Complete the home study and have that child with you within a month, not 5 years. And they don't care what diseases you have had in the past, etc. They just want homes for the kids. These kids are a joy to add to the family and you will never regret it.

As for insurance covering infertility treatments, that one gets stuck in the same category as plastic surgery with me- it is not necessary for your health .

Richelle Rausch
Richelle Rausch6 years ago

There are a lot of unwanted children who need a loving family. Both my parents were adopted.