National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)

When Is NIAW, Why We Need NIAW, and What You Can Do to Raise Awareness

Businesswomen using cell phone in cafeteria
National Infertility Awareness Week is the time to talk about infertility to friends, family, and your representative in congress. Sam Edwards / Getty Images

What Is National Infertility Awareness Week?

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is a project of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The goal of the week is to raise awareness about infertility, to encourage grassroots advocacy, and help couples with infertility cope with their disease.

The week provides a time for those with infertility to "come out" to their friends and families, if they wish. It encourages the fertility challenged to not feel ashamed.

RESOLVE typically hosts a number of activities, both online and off, for those that wish to participate. Most activities focus on advocacy and public education.

Of course, there's no wrong or right way to celebrate NIAW.

When Is National Infertility Awareness Week?

In 2018, NIAW is April 22nd to 28th.

It is usually during the last full week of April, timed to occur slightly before Mother's Day in May.

Why Do We Need National Infertility Awareness Week?

Infertility is a frequently misunderstood condition.

The media tends to focus on the extreme, like the "Octomom" or "Kate Plus Eight" stories. Also, many newspapers and magazines report poorly on infertility or present a skewed picture.

For example, feature stories often focuses on the female side of infertility. But infertility isn't only a woman problem, it affects men as well. In fact, almost half of all infertile couples deal with male factor infertility.

Or, news reports focus on age-related infertility (which makes infertility look like only a "career-woman" problem). Fertility can impact men and women of all ages.

Another example, in 2010, a study on fertility and stress led to headlines stating that "Stress Causes Infertility."

While the study did find some connection between stress hormones and fertility, the study did not show that stress causes infertility. Only that stress might possibly lead to a couple more months of trying to conceive.

However, the media spun the research in a way that fed into a common infertility myth.

NIAW is also needed to spread awareness of infertility to the general public.

With infertility affecting 1 in 8, it's likely that everyone has at least one friend or family member living with infertility.

When the general public understands infertility better, fertility challenged couples will be freer to talk about their condition, possibly experience less shame, and receive more support.

Infertility and Advocacy: Fighting for Insurance Coverage

NIAW is also needed to let lawmakers know who we are and what we need from them. It lets them know that we are voters that matter.

Insurance coverage for infertility is only available in 15 out of 50 states in America.

Many lawmakers believe that including fertility treatments would raise the cost of insurance for everyone. When, in fact, paying for fertility treatments may actually save money.

When fertility treatment is not covered by insurance, couples may choose treatments that have a higher risk of triplets and other high-order multiples. IUI, for example, is cheaper than IVF, but comes with a higher risk of multiples.

Also, because IVF is expensive for couples, when insurance does not cover treatment, patients and doctors are more likely to transfer more embryos per cycle than they should. They do so in hopes of having success quickly, despite the higher risk of multiples. With single embryo transfer, many IVF patients can get pregnant with one baby at a time.

However, because it may take a few cycles to achieve success, families are often unable or unwilling to give it a try when they are paying out of pocket.

Researchers have found that in states that cover fertility treatment, the number of high-order multiples is lower.

Because high-order multiples are often born prematurely, this makes for a huge savings to insurance companies. Hospital preemie care is an extremely expensive. According to the March of Dimes, one preterm baby costs the United States, on average, $51,600. (One set of twins would be just over $100,000 together.) In 2005, that added to up $26.2 billion. That far exceeds what it would cost to cover fertility treatment instead.

There have been situations where laws meant to target abortion have threatened fertility treatment.

Other times, laws targeted fertility treatment itself.

Just after the Octomom story broke, some lawmakers tried to pass legislation to prevent a future super high-order multiple birth from happening in their state.

But because their understanding of infertility and fertility treatment was poor, the laws proposed threatened successful treatment for all infertile couples.

What Can You Do for National Infertility Awareness Week?

During NIAW, RESOLVE hosts a number of activities, including blogging challenges and awareness walks.

Check out the RESOLVE NIAW website for more specific information.

Other things you can do to raise awareness include:

Also be sure to check out these 10 things you can do to advocate for infertility any time of year.

NIAW Yearly Theme: Read, Write, and Share

As a part of National Infertility Awareness Week, RESOLVE selects a yearly theme to help drive the conversation. In 2018, the theme is #FlipTheScript.

Along with the yearly theme, RESOLVE hosts a yearly contest. Bloggers write on the theme, in whatever way they interpret it, and then send a link of their post to RESOLVE. The posts are online for other people to read. A selection of blog posts are chosen by RESOLVE staff, and they are posted on the website for a vote. 

The winner of the yearly contest receives the Hope Award for Best Blog and are honored in New York City during the Night of Hope Awards

Of course, you don't have to participate in the contest in order to get inspired by the yearly theme. You can just use the theme as a writing prompt, and privately share with your social connections.

The yearly theme can also inspire social media posts, and help you connect with others on social media during NIAW. 

Other Fertility-Related Awareness Days/Weeks/Months

NIAW isn't the only time of year for fertility and reproductive health awareness.

Here are some more dates to be aware of...

  • Cervical Health Awareness Month: January
  • Endometriosis Awareness Month: March
  • National Woman's Health Week: May 8th to 14th
  • World Infertility Awareness Month: June
  • Men's Health Month: June
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month: September
  • Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: September
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month: October
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: October 15th
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Article Sources
  • Yale University (2011, April 5). Fewer multiple births in U.S. states with insurance coverage for infertility. ScienceDaily.
  • Prematurity Costs. March of Dimes.