Approximately 1 in 8 couples and an estimated 14,000 North Dakota residents struggle with infertility. There are many factors that can lead to infertility, including hormonal imbalances, low egg reserves/sperm count, genetic defects, and diabetes. Infertility is also not just a women’s issue; male-based infertility accounts for 40-50% of cases.
Infertility doesn’t just impact those who are hoping to get pregnant with their first child. Secondary infertility, or difficulty getting pregnant after a successfully giving birth, can account for up to 30% of cases.
Despite infertility being recognized as a disease, there is no mandated insurance coverage for care. This includes patients seeking to preserve their fertility prior to starting cancer treatments. Resolve completed a community survey that found women accrued an average of $30,000 of debt after undergoing treatment.
Infertility has also been identified as the fourth most traumatic life event a woman can go through, yet a majority of women don’t tell their family or friends about it. All the questions and comments can feel like a punch to the gut;
“When are you going to have a baby?”
“Don’t wait too long, your biological clock is ticking.”
“Do you not want kids?”
It is an expectation in our society that a couple has children, and can be perceived as unnatural when it doesn’t happen within a certain timeframe.
If these couples do choose to open it up about their struggle, they are often met with comments that are unproductive and hurtful;
“Just relax, it will happen when you least expect it.”
“You’re trying too hard.”
“Just have more sex!”
“Go on vacation and relax; it will happen.”
If only it was this easy.
The stigma of infertility is hard to bear and often lonely. It is not a choice, but because of a lack of awareness and difficulty in talking about it (particularly around miscarriage and loss), those struggling can be at a higher risk for mental health concerns.
That is where Everlasting Hope comes in.
Everlasting Hope is a newly founded North Dakota non-profit and the only one in the state raising awareness on infertility. They exist to connect men and women across the entire state and award financial assistance to patients. It is the goal of Everlasting Hope to support families through resources, education, events, and support.
Currently, only 18 states have infertility insurance coverage laws, and eight states have fertility preservation laws for medically-induced infertility. During the 2019 North Dakota legislative session, an infertility care and cancer preservation bill (2233) moved through committee, but did not pass. Everlasting Hope will seek to bring back its efforts during the 2021 session.
Their website features a list of statewide providers, stories from families, monthly newsletters, and an online store (where proceeds go towards easing the financial burden of those who are experiencing infertility).
Everlasting Hope also holds online support groups twice a month. For more information on attending, please e-mail [email protected] You can follow Everlasting Hope on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their website raisingeverlastinghope.org for more information.
Thank you to Natalie Reiter, Licensed Professional Counselor with Prairieland Counseling and Everlasting Hope volunteer, and Tara Brandner, Founder & President of Everlasting Hope, for writing this article.
If you find yourself struggling with infertility, you are not alone. Everlasting Hope is here to help and support you!