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Friday, November 26, 2010

Educating College Women and Men on Infertility

As if I wasn't already involved in enough...  I was working on a Breast Cancer Awareness initiative and just asked a simple little question about infertility resources to the Women's Center at work.  That one little question opened up a new opportunity for me to advocate for infertility in a place that I would have never imagined.  I just never even connected that college aged women (and men) would be interested in infertility.  I obviously thought that most people would be concerned with how to NOT get pregnant.  But I never thought about it from a planning standpoint like... "I don't want to get pregnant today but I do want a family in the future".

I have been working with the American Fertility Association on using their educational materials and possibly even having Corey Whelan, Program Director, come speak to this group.  Just in case you didn't know, the AFA is touring campuses to educate college students on infertility.  Their program focus is on prevention - Infertility Prevention Program.  What an amazing perspective to take!  I realize infertility isn't "preventable" in many cases BUT in many cases there are risk factors and lifestyle changes that can be made to improve our chances.

  • What IF women were educated on those things that they could do to decrease their chances? 
  • What IF women were aware at a young age that their biological clock does play a huge role in conceiving and how long it will take?
  • What IF women and men understand that unsafe sex could reduce or eliminate the possibility of ever being able to have a baby?
  • What IF women knew the signs and symptoms of certain diseases like PCOS and endometriosis and could address them earlier in their life?
  • What IF someone that attends this event could educate 2 of their friends, and they could educate 2 of their friends and the cycle continued?
  • What IF you could educate just one person on infertility and it helped them to prevent it or address their symptoms earlier?
I obviously want a ton of people to show up and would love your feedback on how to get students interested in this topic.  (BTW - I will also be open to staff & faculty.)

I also want to reinforce that this opportunity came to me by just asking one question.  There are still many unknowns in how this event will take place BUT I don't think that really matters.  If 10 women come and learn one thing about infertility, it is a success.  And we never know who else is watching and learning and passing the information on.

CALL TO ACTION: Do me one favor?  Think of your life and if there are any opportunities for you to educate others about infertility.  It could be as simple as you sharing this post with your network of family and friends? You don't need to do the educating, maybe you just connect the resources like I have done?  Maybe you start a local support group or have lunch with someone that you heard is having trouble trying to conceive... information sharing is so important to navigate infertility.

Stay tuned for the ABC's of l-IF-e!


  1. Hi!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your comment! I really like the layout of your blog... and I will take your survey this weekend! From what I can tell, you are doing wonderful things for the IF community... thank you :)

    Per your question on my blog, my Creme de la Creme post is titled "To: Infertility, Love: Mrs. D"... I hope you enjoy :)

    Thanks again, and I look forward to staying connected!

  2. Here from ICLW :) GREAT POST! I'm a sexuality educator and I think IF is an area that gets sorely neglected in the field. I know my experiences are encouraging my friend to be more proactive and investigate their fertility situations. Sending best wishes to you and your loved ones.

  3. I think this is an awesome audience for IF education. Especially the STD connection. While I have endo, my RE also mentioned the possibility that I could have additional scarring in my tubes from PID from an infection I never knew I had. What? And the truth is, I will never know. I think there will be even more women scared straight to PROTECTED sex (not just BCPs) if they realize not only can sex lead to a baby, it can lead to never having a baby. I am not an advocate of abortion but IVF is about 10x as costly and it doesn't always work so infertility can actually be a more permanent result of unprotected sex than pregnancy is. Infertility and unwanted pregnancy/parenthood and abortion can all lead to lifelong emotional scars.

  4. Thank you for the encouraging words here. I will continue to post follow-up as more information is available. I am open to your feedback.. especially in how to get as many participants as possible!

  5. Very interesting point of view for infertility education. A lot of young people are not thinking about future fertility, and college age is the time to start planning. Women need to start thinking about this before they are thirty, or at least get some preliminary tests (POF?) if they are going to wait that long. Do they know fertility starts to decline that young? Do young people know that their actions now can affect future fertility? (e.g., an STD infection now can cause ectopic pregnancy later.) There is so much that young people should know ...
    Good for you and what you are doing!
    happy ICLW~

  6. You've inspired me. I am a college administrator and I've never thought about talking to students about my infertility journey. I'm in charge of a lot of the extracurricular educational events and speakers. I wonder if I could get an RE to come talk to students. I could even target our pre-med and nursing students.

    I feel like I'm finally at a place in my journey where I could talk about what I'm going through without getting emotional. So I think the time has come.

  7. Also maybe a little talk on how conception occurs-signs of ovulation,what a normal menstrual cycle is and how it can vary - the length of the fertile window.What is abnormal and what symptoms must not be ignored.
    eg unexplained weight gain/loss with no change in diet or activity level can be symptoms of pcos, Autoimmune thyroiditis and many other hormonal and autoimmune disorders.
    Tell them that 1 in 8 could be one of them some day, and it could be the one with the healthiest 'lifestyle'.While they can and should avoid risky behaviour,nothing they do can guarantee that conception will be easy.Teach them empathy and do not encourage judgemental attitudes like victim blaming.