If you are struggling to conceive, you aren't alone. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant? And 1 in 8 women of reproductive age have received help for infertility in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, not all states are created equal when it comes to access to fertility treatments and support. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, in partnership with EMD Serono, has just unveiled its fourth annual updated Fertility Scorecard that evaluates the fertility friendliness of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, based on key criteria, including:
States that received an "A" grade include: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
States that received an "F" grade: Alaska, Mississippi, and Wyoming.
These results are similar to last year's Fertility Scorecard, which Barbara Collura, President/CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, told Parents.com means we still have a long way to go. She said in a press release, "Today more than ever, it is important that we come together as a bi-partisan community and highlight the need for access to support resources and family building options across the country, and we are excited to share this important tool."
The biggest change from last year is that you can actually click on the blue dots on each state on the Scorecard's map to see, as Collura explained to us, "what might be happening in the legislature that would impact access to care." For instance, in my home state of New Jersey, I learned that almost 190,000 women have experienced difficulty getting pregnant. Raises hand. I am one of them. But luckily, in my state, there is a law requiring insurance coverage of fertility treatments for women like me.
As this scorecard reveals, that cannot be said of other states like Nevada, New Mexico, and South Dakota. But as Collura says, "We developed the Scorecard not to publicly call out specific states for their lack of access but to care, but to motivate people to take action to improve their state's fertility friendliness."
She adds, "As we were updating the Fertility Scorecard for 2017, it was concerning to see anti-family legislation continue to be introduced in many state legislatures, and our need for advocacy continues to be strong." Collura told Parents.com about this alarming trend that there seems to be "increasing discomfort with IVF and non-traditional families."
There may be a lot of room for improvement for many states when it comes to being fertility friendly, but as Collura told Parents.com, the take-home message is that there's a lot people can do to impact change. "Get to know your state legislators," she advises. "Speak up." Because ultimately, the more we talk about stigmatized issues, and raise consciousness, the more headway we can make toward all states becoming "A" rated when it comes to fertility friendliness.
"We hope that by providing the Fertility Scorecard as a resource we will help people take control of their family-building journey by becoming more educated about how to address both the financial and emotional barriers they encounter," Collura said. "We want to create conversations between patients, HCPs, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, policymakers, and employers that will increase access to fertility treatment nationwide for all who need them."
RESOLVE urges anyone thinking about starting a family or experiencing issues getting pregnant to review the Fertility Scorecard, and encourages couples to visit a fertility specialist if they are younger than 35 and unable to become pregnant after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse (or six months if the woman is older than 35).
How does your state rate?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom-of-four. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.