One in six. That's the number of couples who will struggle with infertility in the U.S.
It's a number that can be hard to put into perspective, especially when couples face shame and sadness throughout their infertility journey.
Many families are left to navigate a labyrinth of steep emotional, physical, and financial pains in silence.
In Tennessee, this journey is exacerbated by a lack of mandated fertility coverage.
"One in Six" is a series which shines a light on the question many couples are asking themselves in private:
Infertility issues are typically one of the more emotionally difficult things a couple can experience while trying to have a baby, and the high financial costs of treatment is an added burden on those couples trying to conceive.
That’s why a group of people who’ve been through the struggles have banned together and formed a group that has three goals: To spread awareness about the disease of infertility, to assist advocates in speaking to their employers about the need for fertility coverage, and to advocate for fertility friendly legislation in Tennessee.
“We really had no plan when we started all this last year,” said Walker, who lives in Collierville. “We just knew something wasn’t being done and needed to be, whether it was encouragement and a place for us find community as we go through this or to answer each other’s questions and help each other out or to do something within our state government.”
“You don’t need a child to live.”
That is a direct quote from an insurance representative when asked why fertility treatments weren’t included in the caller’s healthcare coverage. Infertility isn’t a choice; it’s a disease. Yet, when couples and individuals seek help, they’re told by their insurers to deal with it on their own. As it stands, there is no national mandate for fertility coverage, which leads us to today’s guests, Kara Edwards and Mollie Walker. They’re working to bring a mandate to Tennessee and formed the Tennessee Fertility Advocates.
Throughout this episode, we hear from Kara and Mollie about Tennessee Fertility Advocates, which seeks to change legislation in their state on coverage for fertility treatments. If successful, it will require eligible employers to provide fertility benefits for their employees. Join us to learn how you can do the same for your state.
Back in 2012 when Melody Harrah and her husband, Sante, of Maryville, were hoping to grow their family, they got the disappointing news it wasn’t going to be easy.
Harrah, who is now 36, was diagnosed at that time with polycystic syndrome and also infertility, which means she had gone a full year trying to get pregnant and couldn’t.
“At that point, I knew I would need to be referred to a fertility doctor,” she said. “I knew that insurance wasn’t going to pay for that, so I just put it aside.”
Main and Mulberry: Her Town with Mollie Walker
This week's guest is Mollie Walker, City Executive for Landmark Community Bank and native to Collierville, TN. She is passionate about her community involvement, and she serves in a number of local organizations. Mollie is also the Co-Founder of Tennessee Fertility Advocates and in today's episode will share her story of starting a family and beating the odds.
A new Tennessee advocacy group is pushing the state legislature to pass a fertility insurance bill. Tennessee Fertility Advocates says they want to create the strongest pro-family bill the state has seen.
Dunlap teacher Sydney Walker dedicated her life to children. Her students are a joy, but also a reminder of one who’s missing.
“Siblings come through my classroom and mom has three or four others coming up, and I’m just like ‘I just want one, I’ll just take one,’” she said.
Sydney and her husband have struggled with infertility for years, putting themselves in debt trying to have a baby.
Mollie Walker of Collierville, Tenn. and her friend Lauren Brown co-founded Tennessee Fertility Advocates. Both struggled with infertility and spent thousands of dollars to get pregnant and start building a family.
Infertility is a reality for 1-in-6 couples, according to fertility experts. However, fertility care isn’t offered by most insurance plans in Tennessee. Many hopeful parents incur thousands of dollars in debt as they fund fertility treatments, trying to start a family.
So, Tennessee Fertility Advocates has drafted legislation that covers fertility diagnosis, fertility treatments including medication and fertility preservation.
A new Tennessee advocacy group wants to expand insurance benefits for those who suffer from infertility and is pushing lawmakers to pass legislation in 2021.
Mollie Walker of Collierville co-founded the group.
“I myself struggled with conceiving and needed medicine to help with ovulation and also had a rare blood clotting disease,” she said.
Doctors diagnosed Walker with infertility. After that, she and her husband spent thousands of dollars to get pregnant.
They’re not alone. She’s now connected with thousands of Tennesseans facing infertility as well.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC announced they will offer fertility benefits for all employees beginning January 2021.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infertility affects 1 in 6 women in the United States.
“Infertility is one of the most profoundly lonely and frightening and demoralizing health experiences that men and women go through,” said Dr. Erica Kaye.
Kaye is a pediatric physician and researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who struggled for eight years to start her family.
Mollie Walker with Tennessee Fertility Advocates talks about their efforts to bring awareness to an issue that one in six people struggle with. Watch the interview.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and only 19 states offer fertility insurance for those struggling to start a family.
That’s why Mollie Walker and Lauren Brown co-founded an organization to bring hope to families who are struggling.
"We really want to give our pain a purpose,” Brown said. She and Walker have been friends since they were 5 years old. Throughout the years, they’ve experienced all of life’s greatest joys and greatest sorrows together including infertility and suffering miscarriages.
The duo decided to create the Tennessee Fertility Advocates group in July to offer support for others going through the same thing. Watch the full interview here.
This month on our WKNO TV / PBS Show, The SPARK, our theme is “Focused on Family," featuring interviews with Mollie Walker, co-founder of Tennessee Fertility Advocates; Laurie Powell, CEO of Alliance Healthcare; and Monica Soraya Sanchez, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group.
Check it out here.
After about eight months to a year of trying to conceive without success, many couples start testing to rule out or discover problems. Endometriosis, low sperm count, blocked fallopian tubes, antibodies to sperm, ovulation issues and more start the lengthy list of possible causes. And, in about 15 percent of couples, no cause can be identified.
Treatments at fertility clinics may start with the least expensive and least invasive, such as medicines to increase the release of eggs. A next step may be intrauterine insemination, or IUI (indelicately referred to as the "turkey baster.") In vitro fertilization, which, including medication, can cost $10,000 to $15,000 per cycle, may follow.
Read on. Our own Kara Edwards and Starfish Infertility Foundation are featured.
The Memphis Mom Collective features a nonprofit organization every month.
"We are building and expanding our advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the need for fertility care coverage. If you want to have a discussion with your employer or would be willing to write your State Legislators then please reach out. We would love to help and elevate your voice! Our stories do make a difference. Stand with us and help fight for families."
Read the entire blog post here.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A St. Jude physician is speaking out about an issue that can affect women across the medical field.
Female doctors face a much higher rate of infertility compared with women in other professions. Dr. Erica Kaye is a pediatrics physician, researcher, but likely her proudest title is “Mom.”
She and her husband welcomed their first child four years ago.
But Dr. Kaye held tightly to a secret. "We had significant struggles with infertility for many years, as well as five pregnancy losses, and I grieved that journey very privately in large part to the shame and stigma,”
Host Jeremy C. Park talks with Mollie Walker, Co-Founder of Tennessee Fertility Advocates, who shares the story of starting her family and co-founding the grassroots coalition group to make a difference in the world of infertility coverage for the state of Tennessee. The pro-family group is advocating to optimize legislation in Tennessee to ensure men and women with infertility have the opportunity to access medical treatments they need. Currently, Tennessee has no fertility care or fertility preservation coverage. Watch here.
“Many women struggle with infertility in silence or feel embarrassed. I want them to know that there are support groups and resources. It has been amazing to see the number of women who have said they’re struggling, too,” Mollie says, “It’s important for women to know that they shouldn’t give up and they are not alone.” She recommends that families explore fertility options that might be covered by their employers. Molly has become an advocate for fertility coverage in the workplace. Read about Suffering in Silence: Mollie Walker's Infertility Journey