It's a sobering fact that compounds the pain and suffering of killer cramps: endometriosis remains the leading cause of infertility.
The two have a few parallels. The myths, stigma, and silence that surrounds endometriosis are also present with infertility, which, in turn, negatively affects awareness. Now that the 29th Annual Infertility Awareness Week (April 22-28) is here, there are plenty of facts to brush up on to stop misinformation in its tracks.
True: Reproductive health diseases like endometriosis, PCOS, damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, and premature ovarian failure can all be contributing factors to infertility. False: Just because a woman is diagnosed with infertility, it doesn't mean she'll never conceive.
Women 35 and younger are diagnosed with infertility after one year of trying with well-timed, unprotected intercourse, or if the woman has suffered multiple miscarriages. For women over 35, the definition narrows to six months of actively trying. Still, many women do go on to conceive beyond those timeframes. Treatments like Intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg donor or surrogacy can be viable options.
It’s also important to remember that infertility isn’t just a female problem. Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the male partner, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). At least 7.3 million American women and their partner are dealing with infertility issues. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12 percent of married women, or one in eight couples, are struggling to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term.
It's not the career-focused working woman's dilemma, either. The condition impacts people of all ages, sexual orientations, and socio-economic classes. Common barriers that stand in the way of building much-wanted families include the sky-high costs of treatments like IVF and lack of insurance coverage.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has no requirements for IVF coverage. And out of the 50 states, only 15 offer some form of insurance coverage for infertility treatments. There is especially good news for residents of Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island, because those states do have an insurance mandate that requires employers to include IVF coverage in their employee healthcare plans.
So, while you’re spreading the "f" word, be sure to contact your local and state government representatives and encourage them to take action and fight to include infertility services in all health care insurance plans.