April 23 - 29, 2017 is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It is the time to bring awareness to the millions of individuals who suffer from infertility, and was made a federally recognized health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010. Infertility can be caused by a wide variety of reasons, like ovary or uterine abnormalities, sperm abnormalities, a result of cancer treatment among many others. Infertility can affect men and women of a range of ages, religions, economic statuses, sexual orientations and gender identities. Many of those with infertility often suffer in silence, since this condition is often stigmatized by society. This week, we can help those struggling with infertility by listening, caring, and walking in their shoes to let them know that they do not have to suffer alone. The NIAW is a movement to reduce stigma associated with infertility, educate the community about reproductive health, and remove barriers to building families.
The founder of the NIAW, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, has made it their mission to enhance the understanding of infertility, ensure that people are aware of the guidelines for seeing a fertility specialist, and to educate lawmakers about how infertility impacts people in their state of practice. RESOLVE also provides a network for education, support groups, and resources for those with infertility.
Getting involved with the NIAW is easy! There are several events hosted everyday of this week, with some on the radio, online, and locally. Check the schedule (https://infertilityawareness.org/ whats-happening/event-calendar/) to find an event near you. RESOLVE’s signature fundraising event, the “Walk of Hope,” is an event that represents the journey of infertility, and that no one should have to go through this alone. There are several “Walk of Hope” events around the country (http://www.resolve.org/walk-of-hope/).
If going to events or walks are not your style, there are several other ways to show support. The NIAW website suggests ways to share infertility awareness through social media using profile “Twibbons,” creating a Pinterest Board about your infertility journey, or vlogging your infertility journey on Youtube and letting RESOLVE know about it. You can also use the tags @resolveorg in your posts and using the #NIAW #ListenUp hashtags. The NIAW also accepts one-time or monthly contributions to the RESOLVE mission and has volunteer opportunities with their fundraisers.
However you decide to spend NIAW, know that there are millions of people showing support for those who struggle with infertility. There are many services (counseling and medical) that are available to make sure you can get the help you need and deserve. Know that you are not alone, and there are others out there who are willing to listen.