While navigating the windy (and usually rocky) path of infertility, we expect to face challenges. Physical challenges to our bodies, challenges to our mental well-being, and even financial difficulties. It can be surprising, however, to realize that one of the biggest challenges infertility entails is having to become self-advocates. Whether it’s dealing with a doctor, your employer, an insurance company, or even a state legislator, you will need to effectively communicate to make sure your infertility needs are being met on your terms.
Self-advocacy is the ability to speak-up for yourself and ask for what you need, allowing you to have control over important decisions that affect your life. However, for many of us self-advocacy does not come naturally. Standing up for yourself in the face of someone in a position of perceived authority can be intimidating, especially when you’re at a loss for how to even begin communicating your desires and needs to others. In order to become self advocates and feel more confident with communicating with a strong voice, we need to be aware of our rights and the resources available to us, and then feel comfortable using this information to advocate for ourselves. Easier said than done, especially when dealing with the sensitive (and often overwhelming) nature of infertility. Thankfully for us, there is Fertility Within Reach.
Fertility Within Reach (“FWR”) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on educating the infertility community on how to advocate for access to family-building benefits, including infertility treatment. Davina, the co-founder of FWR, believes that when individuals are armed with information and best-practice suggestions, they become their own best advocate to ensure their family-building needs are met and reproductive health is preserved. Davina’s personal experience of becoming a self-advocate (discussed here) came to benefit her in all areas of life, and inspired her to help others achieve the same feeling of empowerment. She says, “Using my voice and taking steps to advocate for myself leaves me feeling empowered and hopeful. Empowerment is contagious.” FWR recognizes that self-advocacy does not come naturally to everyone, so they provide step-by-step instructions, a strategic approach and supportive materials to empower individuals to effectively communicate with doctors, legislators, insurers and employers (all core groups that can have a major impact on your fertility journey).
FWR’s Path to Empowerment offers techniques to best communicate with each of these groups, removing the guesswork and uncertainty about how to advocate for your infertility needs.We will highlight the communication tips for each of these sectors in a 4 part blog series on communication techniques for infertility treatment. We hope that in this series, the step-by-step instructions FWR offers will give you the tools to feel comfortable and confident in becoming your own best advocate. Doing so will make you a part of breaking down barriers to infertility treatment, and will give you a stronger voice and greater control over achieving your fertility goals.