April 22–28 is National Infertility Awareness Week — and this year, RESOLVE wants to change the way we talk about this common struggle.
Infertility affects 1 in 8 (15 percent) of all couples in the U.S. But, despite its prevalence, it’s still widely misunderstood. That’s why this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week theme is #FliptheScript; RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, wants to change the conversation around infertility so that the public, media, insurance companies, healthcare providers and lawmakers understand:
- The scope of the problem and the people it affects.
- The barriers in place for the millions of people who struggle to build a family.
- The far-reaching impact of infertility on families, friends, coworkers and employers.
At Considering Adoption, we know that many hopeful parents struggle with infertility before beginning their adoption journey. So, we’re joining in the conversation by setting the record straight on some common myths and misunderstandings about infertility and adoption:
Myth: Infertility won’t happen to me.
Infertility is more common than many people realize. It does not discriminate based on race, religion, sexuality or economic status. While some people are at greater risk for infertility than others, no one is immune.
Myth: Women are impacted by infertility more than men.
For some reason, fertility is commonly seen as a “women’s issue” — but the truth is that male factor infertility plays a role in 30–50 percent of infertility cases. If a couple is struggling to conceive, it’s important for both partners to be tested to determine the cause (and the best way to move forward).
Myth: Infertility only affects women who wait too long to have children.
While it’s true that infertility rates tend to increase with age, there are actually a lot of different causes of infertility. Medical conditions, hormonal imbalances, lifestyle choices and more can affect a couple’s ability to get pregnant. It isn’t fair to assume that a couple struggling with infertility is at fault for “waiting too long,” and it’s also dangerous to assume that just because you’re young, infertility can’t affect you.
Myth: Families who already have children don’t have to worry about infertility.
Infertility doesn’t just affect first-time parents. Even if a couple has successfully had a child (or children) in the past, it is not uncommon to experience secondary infertility when they try for another baby later on. In fact, more than 1 million couples struggle with secondary infertility, according to the National Survey of Family Growth.
Myth: If you’re generally healthy, you won’t have fertility problems.
Yes, eating a healthy diet and cutting back on the cigarettes and alcohol can help improve fertility. But a healthy lifestyle alone isn’t enough to fix most underlying fertility issues. Even people in near-perfect health may have trouble getting pregnant; infertility struggles don’t mean that you’ve failed at living a healthy life.
Myth: If you just _______, you will eventually get pregnant.
Nope. Well-meaning friends and family members often make these types of comments and suggestions, but they actually tend to do more harm than good. “Trying harder” or “worrying less” is not the answer to your fertility struggles. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without success (or six months if you’re over 35), it means it’s time to see a doctor about possible infertility issues.
Myth: Couples who struggle with infertility could always just adopt.
While adoption can be a wonderful way to become parents, it isn’t a cure for infertility, and it isn’t the right family-building option for everyone. Hopeful parents who do choose this path must fully grieve and move on from their infertility before bringing an adopted child home.
Also, suggesting that a couple “just” adopt is way oversimplifying the process. And, on a related note, couples who adopt won’t magically become pregnant; adopting a child has no effect whatsoever on a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant.
Myth: Adoption is a last resort for parents who struggle with infertility.
Wrong. Adoption is more than a means to an end; it is a valid and exciting way to build a family, and the process in and of itself is something worth celebrating. Adoption also is not limited to parents who have struggled with infertility. There are many reasons why people adopt, and it is not a “last choice” for the millions of happy, loving families who have been created this way.
Myth: Infertility is untreatable.
There is hope for couples grappling with infertility. While there are some cases where the cause the infertility is never discovered or where the issue simply can’t be fixed, there are also an increasing number of options for couples struggling with infertility today. Thanks to rapid advances in medical technology, about 90 percent of couples who experience infertility will get pregnant eventually, according to the Center of Reproductive Medicine.
Myth: Infertility is something I have to deal with alone.
Friends and family members may not always understand what you’re going through — but this National Infertility Awareness Week is a time to change that. Infertility is not something you should be ashamed of, and it’s not something you have to face alone. Infertility counseling is available, and the more you are able to talk about your story, the more support and understanding there will be for all couples and individuals struggling with infertility.
Help #FliptheScript on infertility this week! Tell your story and share this post to help spread awareness about infertility today.