Knowledge is Power

by Davina Fankhauser
President - Fertility Within Reach

Welcome to Fertility Within Reach! We are here for you. Why? Because we know how awful living with infertility can be, and we have experienced the success of advocating for infertility health benefits.

I have worked in the field of infertility since 2005. My husband and I have lived with infertility since 1994. Our first eight years of trying to build our family we lived in states without an insurance mandate. We could not afford basic testing required to diagnose the reason for our infertility, let alone treat it. By the time we moved to a state with insurance coverage, we were older and our fertility challenges increased, resulting in the need for more invasive and expensive Assisted Reproductive Technology. Over the years, most of our treatment choices were based on finances rather than medical necessity which we found out can be dangerous and costly.

Co-Founder Sandy O’Keefe and I know firsthand that it takes vigilance, strategy, and facts to effectively communicate with legislators, insurers, and employers. Our lobbying efforts in Massachusetts were effective. The intention of Fertility Within Reach is to provide you with information and support that will aid your efforts to secure benefits you need to build your family. We encourage you to actively participate and communicate within our community. The more you know, the more empowered you are to become your own best advocate.

Let’s start with the basics:

Over the years the research on and understanding of infertility has changed. It is important for patients to have the most updated information possible when advocating for themselves. In addition, having a unified understanding of this condition can only help educate public perception as well as impact legislative and insurance guidelines. Unfortunately, major medical resources still provide an outdated definition of infertility. If you come across an inaccurate definition, we encourage you to take a moment to contact the resource and ask them to update their information.

Here are the facts:

Many resources still define infertility as the inability to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. In 2008, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, www.asrm.org, published “Infertility is a disease, defined by the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse. Earlier evaluation and treatment may be justified based on medical history and physical findings and is warranted after 6 months for women over age 35 years.”

The U. S. Supreme Court held in 1998 that infertility is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This medical condition is often misunderstood by the public and often untreated due to a lack of health insurance coverage. Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction.

The condition is attributed equally between male and female factors. In 2002 the Center for Disease Control estimated 7.3 women and their partners are inflicted with infertility. In 2011, the estimate is now 1 in 5 couples will experience infertility.

Because I know the basic information I was able to recognize the Mayo Clinic website currently publishes an outdated definition of infertility. I decided to send an online request, asking they update their information. I’d like to share the simple note I recently submitted to the Mayo Clinic.

Hello,

My name is Davina Fankhauser and I am an infertility patient. I am hoping you would update your website content related to the definition of infertility. You list the American Society of Reproductive Medicine as a resource. I hope you recognize their authority in this field and support/disseminate the definition of infertility they reported several years ago.

In 2008, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, www.asrm.org, published “Infertility is a disease, defined by the failure to achieve a successful pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse. Earlier evaluation and treatment may be justified based on medical history and physical findings and is warranted after 6 months for women over age 35 years.”

It is critical that patients have the most up-to-date information to advocate for their health.

Sincerely yours,
Davina Fankhauser

Having a consistent understanding of infertility among all resources will help your efforts to advocate effectively. Taking steps to ensure those who educate patients are disseminating accurate information might be a first step you could take in your journey to self-advocate. Taking the time to educate an online resource can be a way to become more familiar with the facts and practice how you wish to communicate.

Trackback from your site.

Davina Fankhauser

President - Fertility Within Reach

Leave a comment