I was sitting at my doctor’s office this morning for my usual Monday NST appointment. I had a conversation with a lady in the waiting room about IVF. We started out asking each other how far along we were and talking about birth and such when she mentioned she got pregnant through IVF. We had something in common. We were so open about it as if it were the norm. It was nice. Neither of us were ashamed and actually proud to share our stories. She told me how she had 5 others frozen but had no intention of using them or donating them to anyone. I was a little disappointed to hear that only because if you aren’t using them why would you pay to keep them frozen and not help someone else have a baby. But that’s none of my business. It was just nice talking with someone who was so open about their journey through infertility. Infertility is more common than people think.
I came home and found this article
RESOLVE has partnered with Redbook Magazine on a far-reaching project to raise public awareness about infertility. RESOLVE IS THE NATIONAL INFERTILITY ASSOCIATION. REDBOOK has joined forces with RESOLVE to launch “The Truth About Trying,” an online video campaign to start an open conversation about infertility, which strikes one in eight women in the United States. The message of those speaking out: It’s not always easy to get pregnant, and there’s no shame in that.
There’s nothing the tabloids love more than a baby reveal. And lately, many of the celebs cradling adorable downy-haired infants are 40-somethings. We hear about their designer nurseries, the mini couture outfits, and how they chose their exotic names, but we rarely hear about the fertility issues they endured. Going by the statistics, some certainly did: By age 40, a woman has only a 5 percent chance of conceiving during each cycle. “Regardless of how well you take care of yourself, ovaries age at a constant rate, and there’s nothing you can do to halt it. That clock ticks on,” says Robert Gustofson, M.D., medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Denver. “By 45, the chance of having a child with your own eggs is 1 percent.”
Along with celebs, millions of unfamous women keep their baby-making challenges under wraps. Everyone has the right to privacy, of course, but that secrecy has left so many women to cope alone, in pain, and often uninformed. “It’s frustrating that our society is not more open about infertility,” says Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “When women dealing with infertility can communicate with others in their situation, they get through it in a much better state of mind and also share needed information about their options.”
Those are some of the key reasons REDBOOK has joined forces with RESOLVE to launch “The Truth About Trying,” an online video campaign to start an open conversation about infertility, which strikes one in eight women in the United States. The message of those speaking out: It’s not always easy to get pregnant, and there’s no shame in that.
“It’s crazy to me that this topic is still taboo,” says participant Rosie Pope, 31, who talks about her battle to become a second-time mom — and her shock at all the denial out there — in her video. The star of Bravo’s Pregnant in Heels says, “A lot of people who have gone through IVF and managed to have kids shove it under the rug and pretend it never happened. In Hollywood, you can talk about your drug addiction or divorce, but not infertility. It’s a real disservice to women.”
Most of the fertility specialists and support-group leaders REDBOOK spoke with confirm that couples often conceal their fertility problems. Even when they find a community online, the exchanges are largely anonymous; in real life, they are typically silent. Indeed, in a survey of couples having difficulty conceiving, conducted by the pharmaceutical company Merck, 61 percent of respondents hid their infertility from family and friends. Nearly half didn’t even tell their mothers.
It’s time for infertility to come out of the closet. In their “Truth About Trying” videos, women put names, faces, and voices to this disease (yes, it’s a disease). They are raw, brave, helpful, and warm, and together they offer a powerful resource for you or a friend, sister, daughter — anyone coping with infertility.
What we’re not saying (and hearing)
The official definition of infertility: an inability to get or stay pregnant after a year of trying if you’re under 35, or six months if you’re older. Twelve percent of reproductive-age American women — about 7.3 million — are having trouble conceiving or carrying a baby to term, up from about 9 percent in 1988, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some of that rise reflects the fact that more people are waiting longer to start families, and the older you are, the more likely it is that you’ll have issues like early menopause or a risk of miscarriage. Some 7 to 10 percent of men are infertile; in about 20 percent of situations, both partners have problems. And anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of infertility is “unexplained,” as in, there’s no medical answer for why you’re not pregnant, except that you’re not. “I work out every day. I just did a triathlon. You think, If I’m healthy, this will happen,” says Lori LeRoy, 39, of Indianapolis, who began trying to conceive naturally at 33. She went on to do in vitro fertilization (IVF), and now she and her husband are in the midst of adopting a little boy.
A quick refresher course: With IVF, egg and sperm meet in a petri dish, then embryos are placed in the uterus, helping the process along. While the procedure improves on the 20 percent chance of pregnancy women have when their fertility is at its peak, the success rates drop steeply with age. For women under 35, the odds of carrying a baby to term are 41 percent per IVF cycle. At 38, the chance of birth is 22 percent; at 41, 12 percent; and at 43, 5 percent — slender odds that don’t come cheap, given that most couples pay for treatment out of pocket. “When we started getting the bills, I thought, If only I’d started sooner, I could’ve put the money toward my kids’ college tuition,” says Angelique Jones, 41, of Thorndale, PA, now pregnant with twins.
Lori and Angelique are open about their experiences but acknowledge they were unusually forthcoming. One reason infertility is considered hush-hush is that it’s wrapped up in sex, a subject Americans are notoriously squirmy about. “If you start discussing infertility, you have to talk about ovaries and semen and all kinds of things you don’t usually discuss over dinner,” says Paige Nolt, 29, of Charlottesville, VA, who’s been trying to get pregnant for two years. “Just dealing with my own emotions was difficult enough, so I didn’t talk about it at all.”