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Pack your bags! Is it the beach, the mountains, the slopes, the amusement park, or the ranch? Maybe the spa? How about the clinic…

More and more people are traveling to seek medical treatment and infertility is no exception at all. Someone recently asked us about infertility in the US and around the world and how much travel people do for treatment. Considering there is no international data collection, it is difficult to answer. However, a recent article came out exploring that very question. Here are some facts about ReproTourism around the world.

  • Belgium – first for their invention of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) which helped address male factors
  • Spain – best country for egg donation
  • Latin America – two major hubs for tourism
  • India – over 500 clinics (but debatable hub for surrogacy now)

Another trend is that medical tourism used to be from poorer regions to wealthier countries. ReproTravel is often the opposite. Treatment has become much easier and costs in less developed countries make it attractive.

Biggest reason for travel besides costs? Friendlier legislation. You can only have a treatment if the procedure is legal.

See the full article.

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Rabbinic Students in Pastoral Care Class at American Jewish University

Rabbinic Students in Pastoral Care Class at American Jewish University

Rabbi Idit Solomon presented at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, American Jewish University and the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles this week.

Part of Hasidah’s mission is to build a robust network within the Jewish community to provide support for people throughout their fertility journey. Clergy and communal professional leaders play a critical role in building awareness and inclusion and being a source of support and resources when people face difficult times. The seminars helped  future rabbis, cantors, chaplains and faculty gain awareness about infertility and develop skills for providing people experiencing infertility and fertility challenges with emotional and spiritual support.
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Breaking news in the infertility and pregnancy loss world: Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife Pricilla Chan are expecting a baby girl after having endured three miscarriages. Almost unanimous support came pouring out for their impending parenthood and for their speaking out on the issue. The story has been getting traction across the media world from CNN Money, and Forbes (with an amazing list of stories to share) to Time (focusing on men!). And there are many more.

A couple of these articles cite a research study that indicates 28 percent of women who had experienced a miscarriage and learned about a celebrity’s pregnancy loss felt less isolated with that knowledge. All the more so, when learning about a friend’s miscarriage, 46 percent felt less isolated.

For many of us who have been through it, this is no surprise. Letting the world know about pregnancy loss – and Mark Zuckerberg did an amazing job of making that happen – is a tremendous gift.

Stigma is sometimes attached to infertility and pregnancy loss.  Even when stigma is not externally imposed, the experience leaves people feeling like something is wrong with them. On top of the sadness and loss they may feel deficient, defective, disgraced even. With the advances in technology that tell us that the experiences are normal, the outcome is often the same – a feeling of isolation. Many people are isolated by feelings of guilt.  Could I have done something to prevent this? Others think that nobody else can understand the pain, which can be physical, emotional and spiritual. This is so painful how can I cope with this? Nobody else must have been through it like this or I’d know. Surely I’d have heard about it. I should just get over it. It must just be me…

The feelings are all terribly normal. Doubt, guilt, fear, pain and sadness are common and one important form of treatment for moving through them is removing the stigma and the resulting isolation. Sharing stories let’s people know that our experiences, as horrible as they feel, are possible to survive. The stories build awareness in general about this important issue. They build a culture that encourages seeking help and supporting others. For that we are immensely grateful to Mark Zuckerberg for coming forward and sharing his story.

Besha’ah tova to Mark and Pricilla – in good time, may they be blessed with a healthy baby girl.

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Sharing your story can make a difference. If you have an infertility or pregnancy loss story, please consider writing about it to help Hasidah in our missing to support those struggling to build their families. You can submit here or contact us at info@hasidah.org. 

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Lists. We love the top 10 lists, the 5 most important lists. These lists are neither. They are simply important yet basic things to know. So they are a place to start.  In fact, we’d love it if you suggested more. Please do.

Ways to support someone experiencing infertility

1) Tell them you care. Whatever they are experiencing, remind them that they are not alone.
2) Take them out. To dinner, a pedicure, a game, a movie. Something focused on adults that is not family focused.
3) Offer to listen if they want to talk. Then listen. Offer to do nothing if they do not want to talk. Then keep in touch about the rest of their lives.

What NOT to say

1) Do NOT ask when they are going to have a child or if she is pregnant. For a close friend you may be able to sensitively ask about their family planning. We cannot simply ignore the subject, rather we must learn how to support with sensitivity.
2) Do NOT offer quick solutions, especially the “relax and it will be fine” solution. If solutions were that easy, there would not be millions (yes millions) of people experiencing infertility. Offering advice quickly ignores that you do not know their end goal and assumes you know the situation.
3) Do NOT compare their situation to someone else. When someone does share about their fertility journey, its about them. Keep it there.
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Awareness can mean many things from people knowing about infertility to the development of a culture that understands the reality of infertility and knows how to support those experiencing it. Hasidah is building awareness on many levels from increasing knowledge to making the change in the Jewish community’s culture to be more supportive. During this National Infertility Awareness Week,  Hasidah will publish a several perspectives and helpful pieces of information to help expand awareness. Please share!

Not so successful

Source: RMANJ: Infertility In America 2015

Myth: Infertility does not effect regular healthy couples that much
Myth: Infertility treatments like IVF’s have low success rates

Reality: American’s are overconfident about natural fertility.
Reality: 1 in 8 women have a fertility impairment.
Reality: That 1 in 8 number was extremely generous. It does not include men (that issue alone is worthy of a lot of awareness!). It does not factor age in accurately (it starts at age 15). The Jewish community tends to marry and have children later than the average American which increases infertility rates.  In other words, for the Jewish community the rates of fertility impairment are likely closer to 1 in 6. Ask your friends. You are likely to find that it quite common to have experience with fertility impairment.
Reality: IVF is 32%  on average (SART.org 2013)
Reality: Natural fertility is a 20% chance. (See chart)

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