by Rebecca Flick, Vice President, Communications and Programs
Friday morning, November 9th, before I even arrived at the office my email and phone was inundated with people wanting to make sure I had heard the news…”Michelle Obama opens up about her IVF and miscarriage.” Celebrities sharing their infertility story is more and more common these days. Also this week Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade announced the birth of their baby via a gestational surrogate. Chrissy Teigen talks about infertility all the time in interviews and on social media. The mega-hit show “This is Us” has a whole story line about PCOS and IVF.
It always feels like infertility is “everywhere”, but in the same breath we always hear “no one talks about it.” So which is it?
It’s both. If people weren’t talking about infertility, would it be a key story line on a major TV show? Or the subject of the Netflix film “Private Life”? Probably not.
Most celebrities talk about their infertility journey after the fact, which is fine, it’s their private life. But it’s usually after the fact and when there’s been success.
Maybe when people say “no one talks about it” what they really mean is no one talks about:
- the moment you get the diagnosis from the doctor and how excruciating it can feel
- how hard medical treatment can be on your bank account, and your physical and mental state
- when you live with infertility and your marriage doesn’t survive it
- when treatment doesn’t work
- when the adoption process takes years
- when the surrogate backs out
- when you can’t find an egg donor that’s the same race as you
- when you simply cannot afford any of the options to help you become a parent
So is that what it means to say “no one talks about it”? Because those scenarios are the reality for way too many people.
Maybe it’s because not everyone is talking about infertility. Maybe it’s because reproductive health and family building information only reaches the people that can afford to see the doctor in the first place due to high out-of-pocket costs, economic status, or the ability to be connected online. Maybe it’s because in some cultures infertility is looked at as being broken or a failure. This is why Michelle Obama and Gabrielle Union being open about their infertility is important because every person who experiences infertility needs to be represented by personal stories and have access to the right information.
Infertility is a disease and a public health issue and if treated as such by friends and family, employers, the media, insurers and lawmakers, those that experience infertility would feel more support and be able to reach their resolution. So we need a diverse group of public figures to keep talking about it. We need vulnerable communities in our country who are subjected to healthcare inequities to know they are not alone.
How can YOU help?
- Share information in the hopes that everyone in your world knows your experience
- Educate your elected officials – both state and federal – so they know that infertility impacts people in their communities
- Work with your local community health organizations and agencies to share information from RESOLVE
- Are you a woman of color? Please connect with us so we can share YOUR story
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. RESOLVE will continue to fight for anyone struggling to build a family, but needs help reaching vulnerable communities who may not know where to go for help. If you can, please think about donating this giving season to RESOLVE. Also, if you are someone in the health education community and want to connect or partner with RESOLVE, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know I’m always grateful when public figures mentions their infertility struggle; it brings immediate attention, we get a spike in social media, and typically we see good media coverage. But RESOLVE wants more than that. And we can’t say it enough: We want ANYONE who is struggling to build a family to have access to information, medical care, emotional support, and the family building option that is right for them.
Read more about Michelle Obama’s story and other related content:
- Why Are So Many Black Women Suffering Through Infertility In Silence?, Womens Health, October 29, 2018
- Michelle Obama had miscarriage, used IVF to conceive girls, ABC News, November 9, 2018
- Michelle Obama is one of millions who struggled with infertility. Here’s why her broken silence could matter, Washington Post, November 9, 2018
- Michelle Obama Reveals She Had a Miscarriage and Underwent IVF With Both Daughters, Glamour, November 9, 2018
- Michelle Obama’s Story Could Mean A Lot To Black Women Facing Infertility, Huffington Post, November 9, 2018