I recently wrote about the world's largest conference on issues of women's health and rights and how infertility has finally made it onto the global women's health agenda. That's a big deal. Although such a development sounds disconnected from making a difference to your own experience in dealing with infertility, the truth is it matters.
We often talk about healthcare being local and that's true. You likely choose your fertility specialist and clinic based on recommendations as well as general proximity to where you live. However, advances in infertility research and treatment often come from other countries that unlike the US don't have political or funding restrictions on certain types of medical research that may involve embryos. That means breakthroughs that may make a difference in US infertility research and treatment have come from the United Kingdom, Sweden, and China.
For example, new "imported" techniques in the lab will aid our understanding of how embryos develop to help advance our ability to select the best embryos to implant for a pregnancy and healthy baby. This is especially important as most couples would prefer to implant a single embryo to avoid multiple births. New treatments from other countries have also helped us more effectively treat older women and those experiencing repeated miscarriages.
These developments - and the dissemination of information to researchers and infertility specialists - don't happen in a vacuum. They occur because we have forums like Women Deliver in Copenhagen and because credible, respected organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Planned Parenthood step up to serve as conveners and advocates.
Through international and US conferences for fertility professionals and partnerships with organizations working with couples and those making coverage decisions, global developments become local realities. And, that makes a difference to you and your doctor. It helps women around the globe - although as we mentioned in our last post, access to treatment around the world varies enormously.
So, if you or a family member or friend are facing infertility, you know that it has nothing to do with where you live, what you earn, what religion or culture you belong to. And, when you have infertility in common, it transcends everything.
Besides learning about global progress on infertility, you can also keep track of access and coverage for infertility treatment in the US in part through the fertility scorecard produced by RESOLVE. They rate states on how fertility-friendly they are by analyzing factors such as insurance mandates, the number of fertility specialists and clinics and also identify where there's work to be done.
To become an advocate for better infertility coverage for yourself and others, check out ways to become involved with RESOLVE campaigns and programs. They help remind decision-makers - both government and insurance executives - that there are real people and large numbers behind the movement to secure access to affordable infertility treatment. Stay tuned.