National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)

Observed in April to combat myths and advocate for insurance coverage

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What Is National Infertility Awareness Week?

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is a project of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. The goal of the observance is to increase understanding about infertility, to encourage grassroots advocacy, and help couples with infertility cope with their condition.

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?

NIAW is typically held during the last full week of April. It is timed to occur slightly before Mother's Day in May. In 2023, the dates for NIAW are April 23 to 29. In 2024, it will be held from April 21 to 27.

NIAW Helps Change Misconceptions

With infertility affecting 1 in 8 people, 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.

Since infertility is a frequently misunderstood condition, NIAW is also aimed at major institutions, like the media and insurance companies.

Infertility in the Media

The media tends to focus on extreme cases of multiple birth. Also, many newspapers and magazines report poorly on infertility or present a skewed picture.

For example, articles often focus primarily on the female side of infertility. But infertility affects men as well. In fact, almost half of all infertile couples deal with male factor infertility.

Another problem is that news reports primarily focus on age-related infertility (which makes infertility look like a problem only for people who delay childbearing). Fertility can impact men and women of all ages.

Another common problem with how the media covers infertility is oversimplification of causes and treatments. This is especially true when it comes to studies on stress or diet and their relation to fertility.

For example, in 2018, a study on diet and fertility found that women who ate very little fruit (one or fewer servings of fruit per month) and more fast food tended to take longer to get pregnant than women who ate fruit three or more times per day.

Almost all the headlines reporting on this study implied that fast food made it harder to get pregnant—but, when you looked at what the study actually found, that "increased" time to pregnancy was just two weeks. Also, none of the women in the study experienced infertility.

Another issue was the study was comparing those who ate very few healthy foods and a lot of unhealthy food to those eating a much healthier diet. The truth is, most people tend to fall in the middle, and not in the extremes.

Someone looking at the study headline and just skimming may get the impression that fast food causes infertility or serious delays in getting pregnant. Some headlines even said things like "Fast Food Increases Risk of Infertility." That's not what the study found at all.

In another example, 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, it 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 Advocates for Insurance Coverage

It's important to let lawmakers know who people with fertility challenges are and what they need from their representatives. Events like NIAW let them know that people facing infertility are voters that matter. Insurance coverage for infertility is only available in 16 out of 50 U.S. states.

Many lawmakers believe that including fertility treatments in insurance coverage would raise the cost of insurance for everyone. 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. Intrauterine insemination (IUI), for example, is cheaper than in vitro fertilization (IVF), but comes with a higher risk of multiples.

Also, because IVF is expensive, 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. In fact, 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 huge savings for insurance companies. Hospital preemie care is 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. That exceeds what it would cost to cover fertility treatment instead.

How to Observe 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:

  • Committing to attending Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.
  • Dedicating your Facebook status or tweeting about infertility awareness (An example: "I stand with the 1 in 8 who live with infertility. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, repost if you're with me.")
  • Hosting fundraiser or Walk for Hope
  • Sharing your infertility story
  • Starting a fertility blog
  • Talking about infertility to friends and family
  • Volunteering for your local RESOLVE chapter
  • Writing a letter or calling your representatives in congress, or your state government, about your infertility experience

You can also try sharing any of these links on Facebook, Twitter, or via email:

A Word From Verywell

Participating in awareness events can give those struggling with a disease a sense of empowerment. Awareness days and weeks give individuals an "excuse" to talk about an issue, without needing to necessarily share the details of their particular story (if they don't want to).

Awareness weeks also allow friends and family to talk about a disease that affects their loved ones. Whether you decide to participate on a private level or go more public in your National Infertility Awareness Week activities, you and others living with infertility will benefit.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Grieger JA, Grzeskowiak LE, Bianco-Miotto T, et al. Pre-pregnancy fast food and fruit intake is associated with time to pregnancy. Hum Reprod. 2018;33(6):1063-1070. doi:10.1093/humrep/dey079

  2. Boivin J, Griffiths E, Venetis CA. Emotional distress in infertile women and failure of assisted reproductive technologies: meta-analysis of prospective psychosocial studies. BMJ. 2011;342:d223. doi:10.1136/bmj.d223

  3. National Conference of State Legislatures. State laws related to insurance coverage for infertility treatment.

  4. Nowatzke J. 30 years of national IVF data collection and analysis improves quality of care. Northwestern Medicine.

  5. Prematurity costs. March of Dimes.

  6. March of Dimes. Preterm Birth.

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.