Today’s post offers a unique perspective on the meaning of National Infertility Awareness Week to one individual: one from that of a physician. Dr. Vito Cardone has been practicing reproductive medicine for over 20 years now as is Medical Director for Cardone Reproductive Medicine and Infertility in Stoneham, MA.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), a milestone that has been observed since RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association lobbied Congress to designate a special week to call public attention to infertility as a medical condition affecting over 7 million Americans.
NIAW has great significance for most people in the infertility community, including physicians. Personally NIAW is a time to be grateful for all that the infertility field has meant to me. As I reflect on how far assisted reproduction has evolved since I first started practicing infertility medicine over three decades ago, I am grateful for choices patients have today.
Thirty years ago options for treatment were limited to surgery, intrauterine inseminations or medications. The births of Louise Brown in England and Elizabeth Carr in the United States were tremendously exciting developments that heralded the growth of in vitro fertilization in the years to come. What was once a breakthrough technology has now become routine.
IVF success rates have more than doubled and tripled. Egg donation has given new hope to women whose own eggs are no longer viable and has made pregnancy a reality for tens of thousands of them. ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, has been a game changer for male factor infertility. Improved laboratory conditions and advanced embryo screening have further pushed the boundaries of success. Egg, sperm and embryo cryopreservation are allowing young cancer victims the chance to preserve their fertility despite a devastating diagnosis. The perfection of this technology also bodes well for women who want or need to delay child bearing but don’t want to risk not being to use their own genetic material when they are ready.
We’ve come so far from the early days in our field, and we need to make the public and infertility patient population aware of our progress. NIAW provides this type of opportunity.
Practicing in Massachusetts, I also am grateful that most of my patients’ treatment is paid by their health insurance plans. The Massachusetts Infertility Mandate would not have been possible without the hard work and passion of RESOLVE of the Bay State (now RESOLVE New England) volunteers. Patients in Massachusetts and the 13 other states that have some type of mandated insurance coverage can be grateful that much of the financial burden of infertility treatment has been removed for them.
And we are encouraged that the Family Act, a bill introduced in the US Congress that would give a tax credit for infertility treatment, will also be passed in the near future, giving needed assistance to patients nationwide. On Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 25, fertility advocates from around the country will converge on Washington, D.C., to lobby their elected officials about passage of this bill. NIAW provides this type of opportunity.
I am also grateful for all the emotional and educational support that organizations like RESOLVE of New England provide local men and women struggling with infertility. Through the numerous programs and resources they offer, they are helping my patients and others know that they are not alone in their journey to conceive.
But most importantly, I am grateful for the thousands of patients I have treated during my career who have given me the opportunity to help them fulfill their dreams of building a family. Besides seeing my own family grow and thrive, there is no greater joy than changing peoples’ lives so profoundly.
So even though we still have much work to do as a field in helping individuals to resolve infertility and in making sure everyone has access treatment, what we have accomplished outweighs what we haven’t.
What are you grateful for during National Infertility Awareness Week?
About the Author
Dr. Vito Cardone is Medical Director of Cardone Reproductive Medicine & Infertility. He received his undergraduate degree from McGill University in Montreal and his medical degree from Laval University in Quebec. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at McGill University. He is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Cardone became interested in the field of infertility in the mid-70s when he was practicing maternal fetal medicine in Montreal. After the birth of the first in vitro fertilization baby in London in 1978, Dr. Cardone began exploring this new technology.