By Kara Edwards, Starfish Infertility Foundation
It’s estimated that one in eight couples in the U.S. have trouble conceiving a child. The CDC reports about 7.5 million women or 12.3% have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. While many factors contribute to the cause of infertility, it’s important for individuals and couples to understand they are not alone in their struggle.
National Infertility Awareness Week is April 23-29 and it’s an appropriate time to shine a light on resources available to help individuals and couples realize their dream of a family. Here are a few tips to share with couples struggling with infertility:
Select a Professional Care Team. Finding infertility specialists, physicians, clinicians and treatment centers can be an arduous task. Start with an OB-GYN who should be able to provide a referral to a specialist if needed. If you’re referred to a fertility clinic, review their credentials and make sure they are SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology) certified. SART is the primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of assisted reproductive technologies in the U.S. SART certified clinics on average have higher success rates for procedures including IVF, IUI and FET.
Seek Emotional Support. Infertility is an emotional roller coaster for individuals, couples and family members. Many women feel they need to keep their struggle silent because it is too personal or painful to discuss with others who do not understand. The best thing partners and families can do is to listen. Couples should connect with others who are going through similar issues in private online groups or peer-led support groups such as RESOLVE that hosts ongoing in-person meetings at locations across the country.
Apply for Financial Support. The financial burden for infertility treatment may be insurmountable for couples. Procedures range from $1,000 to $15,000 or more per cycle not including medications. Many couples need multiple procedures, infertility treatments and surgeries to successfully conceive. Insurance companies may cover diagnostic testing to understand why couples are not conceiving but they often do not cover the costs of treatment. This is due to infertility treatments being viewed as an elective procedure and not lifesaving. There are only a handful of organizations that provide grants for infertility treatments including 501c3 non-profit organization Starfish Infertility Foundation in Tennessee. Starfish is currently accepting applications for the Bexleigh grant through May 31, 2017 for those who do not have provisions in their insurance. Other potential grant sources include BabyQuest, Cade Foundation and Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation. Each grant has different eligibility requirements, applications and selection criteria.
Make Self-Care a Priority. It’s easy through the maze of doctors’ appointments, medications, procedures and hormonal side effects to put aside self-care. Managing infertility challenges can be all consuming. Schedule time to take care of yourself to reflect, recharge and renew. Spend time in nature and with your spouse, friends and family members doing activities you enjoy. Try to find a balance with the rest of your life as you navigate this remarkable journey to parenthood.
Lastly, couples should remember they are not alone in the struggle with infertility. If you know someone who has been newly diagnosed with infertility and not sure where to turn, refer them to the RESOLVE HelpLine at 866-NOT-ALONE or 866-668-2566 The HelpLine is a volunteer voicemail system and calls will be returned in 1-3 days.