April 22- 28, 2012 is National Infertility Awareness Week. This year's theme is "don't ignore infertility."
This theme really resonates with me. So much about infertility is ignored, and it shouldn't be that way.
Don't ignore how widespread infertility is. One in 8 couples will have trouble getting and/or staying pregnant (source). Likewise, don't take your fertility for granted. In women, fertility declines steadily after age 32 (source).
Don't ignore your body. The pill is a wonderful birth control option for many couples. But it also hides fertility problems. I was on the pill for 10 years and had no clue I didn't ovulate until I stopped taking it. When you're on hormonal birth control, you don't ovulate or get your period. That bleeding you have every month is simply withdrawal bleeding from the drop in synthetic hormones (source). The only way to learn about your body is to get off hormonal birth control and note what happens. I'm not saying you should start trying for a baby before you're ready, but there are other non-hormonal birth control options out there.
Don't ignore your symptoms. Not getting your period regularly may seem like a blessing, but it's really anything but. On the same note, periods are not supposed to be really painful. Educate yourself on what's normal and what's not (check out this Mayo Clinic article). If you're younger than 35 and have been unable to get pregnant (or carry a pregnancy to a live birth) after one year of unprotected, regular sex, see a reproductive endocrinologist. If you're 35 or older, see an RE after 6 months (source).
Don't ignore your feelings. Going through infertility made me feel a lot of "shameful" emotions. I eventually learned that everything I felt was normal. Trying to hide my feelings just made things worse. Don't be afraid to speak up. Share how you feel with your partner, friends, family, doctor, and/or a therapist.
Don't ignore people suffering from infertility. Infertility is a disease. Just like any other debilitating condition, it robs you of the possibility of your future. Sadly, infertility is still somewhat stigmatized and it's hard for some of us to open up about our illness. When someone with infertility tells you what they're going through, please don't ignore them. You likely wouldn't ignore a loved one with cancer, so please also support those going through infertility.
Don't ignore your past. Most of you will become infertility success stories. Though just because you have a baby now doesn't mean you should forget where you've been. Remember how it felt to be on the exam table right before an ultrasound, eager to see if you had a shot at ovulating that month. Remember staring at the phone all day, praying it would ring so you could hear the results of your beta. Remember the vicious cycle of hope, angst, anticipation, and grief that you went through for months on end. You may have "beat" infertility, but don't forget about it. Support those still suffering.
Don't ignore hope. Your path to parenthood may be long and full of dead ends, but you will become a mommy someday, someway. <3