National Infertility Awareness Week is observed during the last full week of April and takes place from April 23 to 29 this year, most often before Mother’s Day in May. It is a significant observance that aims to raise awareness about infertility, the non-existent support structures, and the challenge those encountering fertility face. Infertility is a common challenge that doesn’t discriminate, affecting anyone regardless of race, religion, sexuality, or economic status. The initiative encourages sharing of infertility stories or reproductive issues to change the narrative and get the necessary support and make the journey easier. Women should not be left alone in the struggle.
History of National Infertility Awareness Week
A quick scan in today’s world and we see the sad pattern: a woman’s worth being equated with her ability to birth a child. Her worth, and womanhood are reduced to nothing as long as she is of age and is yet to reproduce. The journey toward conception can be deeply isolating, distressing, and frustrating, to say the least, especially for women of color who are fed with the belief of infertility talk being taboo. Anger, anxiety, frustration, self-blame, self-hate, low self-esteem, shame, and depression are feelings faced during this trying time.
While for some, getting pregnant is a breeze, others go through quite a struggle. According to research, an estimated one in eight couples struggle with infertility in the U.S.A. Infertility is said to be a condition when a couple is unable to get pregnant after one year of regular unprotected sex. For females over the age of 35, medical advice should be sought after six months of trying, as fertility sharply starts declining at age 35. Lifestyle factors include age (decreasing chances as one gets older), genetics (genes and reproductive lifespan), hormones (progesterone, ovulation, periods) gynecology issues, (fallopian tube defects, pelvic inflammatory disease (P.I.D.), endometriosis, medical history (done surgery to the ovaries), lifestyle (smoking, being underweight, stress resulting in hormonal imbalance) — all of these play a major role in determining fertility.
Infertility is highly stigmatized in today’s world, especially in the black community. Pushing forward a change in narrative, urging for these challenges to be talked about, removing associating stigmas and barriers, and building families, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association kick-started the National Infertility Awareness Week movement, raising “awareness about the significant lack of access to family building options and emotional support for millions of women and men struggling to build a family.”
National Infertility Awareness Week timeline
The Father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, blames being overweight as a ground for infertility because “the fat compresses the mouth of the womb.”
Ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures believe fertility gods like Min, son of Osiris and Isis, and Priapus have the ultimate say in conception matters; therefore, rituals and offerings are used to appeal during festivals and coronations.
Held in ancient Rome every February 15, Lupercalia, also known as dies Februatus, a bloody purification ceremony, features the fertility rite where priests to gods run through the city whipping infertile women's bellies.
Scottish obstetrician William Smellie, known as the father of British midwifery, leads the way by carrying out experiments and describing the fertilization process.
The 19th and 20th centuries usher in tremendous progress in the treatments and diagnosis of infertility, witnessing the world's first “test-tube” baby born in England.
In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) approves the first birth control pill, Enovid.
National Infertility Awareness Week FAQs
When did National Infertility Awareness Week become recognized?
The N.I.A.W., which was started in the U.S. in 1989 by RESOLVE, gained federal recognition in the U.S. as a health observance by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010.
What is the symbol for infertility?
The pineapple. It is widely recognized as a symbol for women struggling with infertility.
Is there an Infertility Awareness Month?
Yes, every June, the world comes together to create and increase awareness about fertility issues, encourage communication, and break barriers.
How to Observe National Infertility Awareness Week
Show solidarity with those struggling with infertility during the National Infertility Awareness Week by wearing its signature color — orange. According to RESOLVE, orange promotes a sense of wellness, emotional energy to be shared, compassion, passion, and warmth.
Join the awareness walk
Dubbed the Do-It-Yourself Walk of Hope, a Fundraising Event for RESOLVE, this campaign helps call unto the community to donate to help those struggling with infertility. This will give them access to information, emotional support, and family-building options, bringing hope and making them realize they are not alone.
Post on social media
Spread awareness about infertility and the effects of stigmas on our loved ones. You can do so by utilizing the N.I.A.W. banner or logo, sharing stories, calling for donations via extended N.I.A.W. links, and using the hashtag #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek.
5 Facts About Infertility You Should Know
Infertility does not discriminate
The disease affects humans regardless of race, sexuality, economic status, or religion.
The world's most fertile countries
Niger tops the recent list rating at 6.9 children per woman, followed by Congo (5.9), Mali (5.9), Chad (5.7), and Angola (5.5), while on the flip side, Taiwan with an estimated 1.07 children per woman, holds the lowest fertility rate worldwide.
Infertility affects both sexes equally
The Office of Women's Health states that about one-third of infertility cases are caused by women's problems while another one-third is attributed to the man.
Eight million babies are born via I.V.F.
Since the in vitro fertilization (I.V.F.) procedure came into existence, although heavily criticized as a clinical procedure, success rates have skyrocketed over the years.
Ovulation and conception work hand-in-hand
Roughly 25% of female infertility problems have been traced to irregular or abnormal ovulation
Why National Infertility Awareness Week is Important
It helps us come together
Standing outside the fence on an existing challenge doesn't always give a clear picture of things. Infertility can feel isolating but with N.I.A.W., awareness is created, support is offered and hope is restored, to those struggling conception-wise.
It reminds us that infertility is a common problem
Oftentimes, when trying to conceive the misconception about the challenge being peculiar to persons holds strong, with this important day, we realize infertility is common and treatable, giving hope. Infertility is said to affect one in eight couples in the United States
It brings hope and healing
The conception journey is fraught with disappointment, mental strain, judgment, and therefore stigma, N.I.A.W. aims to shatter culture shaming through awareness and education. Joining millions of others to share your story restores hope and heals deep wounds.
National Infertility Awareness Week dates