Infertility is like the elephant in the room. We all know it’s there but few are willing to acknowledge it. It strikes our sisters and brothers, our sons and daughters, our cousins, our friends, our colleagues and people all around us in the grocery store, the mall, the park. It can affect, in so many ways, the lives of persons sitting next to us in a coffee shop, on a plane, the bus, the sports stadium, the classroom, the workplace or in churches, synagogues, mosques or temples.
We’re everywhere and yet nowhere. I’ve been imagining since I got my pomegranate bracelet what the reaction might be if I were brave enough to wear a shirt carrying the words “Infertile but not Invisible” on it. Our condition is well disguised. I certainly don’t look infertile. Therein lays a challenge.
I recently received the following advice: “It seems crass, but publishers like to see a tie-in to how a topic is relevant right NOW for marketing purposes. Unfortunately many of the folks in publishing in NYC are young, fertile women who don’t know much about infertility.”
That said, I’m in the midst of research. I’m combing the Internet for data to get my hands on both statistics and relevance to reveal the elephant in the room. The numbers don’t lie:
- RESOLVE reports that there is a 1 in 8 chance you either know someone with infertility or you are experiencing the challenges of infertility yourself.
- The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicates 12 percent of women 15-44 (or 7.3 million women) had physical difficulty with getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term. [2002 data]
- One-half of 1% of men were functionally sterile in 1938. Today it has reached between 8-12% (an over 15-fold increase). “Functionally sterile” is defined as sperm counts below 20 million per milliliter of semen. [Note to MLO: this supports your latest post]
- An estimated 10 percent of American couples have trouble conceiving – infertility is estimated to be $2 billion industry annually in the US
And there are real life stories slowly surfacing, too. Since publishers want to know how this topic relates to “popular culture,” here are a few examples of celebrities and dramas offering a peak at infertility struggles:
- Celebrities on the record as pursuing infertility treatment: Brooke Shields; Courtney Cox; two of the three Dixie Chicks; Desperate Housewife’s Brenda Strong; Celine Dion; Jane Seymour; Alexis Stewart and, most recently, Helena Bonham Carter. (Of course there are many more suspected).
- TV shows or film where infertility made its way it into story lines: Sex in the City; Tell Me You Love Me; Children of Men; ugh, now I’m drawing a blank…I know there are more examples.
Would like your help making the case. As you can see, the vast majority of my research is U.S.-centric, but clearly infertility knows no borders. Are there additional data points or links you can point me to in your country? Some supporting examples that will help make the case? I know there’s plenty of material and I welcome your help.