• Blog Post

Reflecting on World Infertility Awareness and Pride Month: Let’s Champion Inclusivity

Publish Date

11 JUL 2022

Author

Jodi Collis

Overview

As World Infertility Awareness Month and Pride celebrations come to a close around Canada and the world, my team and I reflect on how our work can support the 2SLGBTQIA+ patient community.

There’s a lot for us to think about every summer at EMD Serono, Canada. As leaders in the treatment of infertility, we are presented a valuable opportunity every World Infertility Awareness Month to engage with our communities directly.

 

But June also kicked off a summer of Pride celebrations, where the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and allies honour increased visibility, progress towards equality and self-affirmation. This year, my team has been considering the intersection of advocacy and support for both of these lived experiences.


AN UNEVEN PLAYING FIELD

While it’s true infertility affects anyone faced with it differently, it yields the same result for all: difficulty starting or growing a family. One in six couples in Canada of childbearing age share the experience of having difficulty in conceiving, and this group has been growing in numbers steadily since the 1980s. 1

That 16 per cent of the population includes 2SLGBTQIA+ community. According to resources developed by Rainbow Health Ontario, some fertility clinics in urban areas like Toronto report that up to 25 per cent of their clients are 2SLGBTQIA+.2

Those figures are significant but do not demonstrate the full picture. Many in Canada seeking fertility care may face financial, social and even legal barriers standing in the way of receiving fertility care.

In navigating the process, however, 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals are often faced with inconsistent access to reproductive healthcare from region to region and are more likely to encounter care that doesn’t account for their lived experience.3 You can imagine the emotional tolls of encounters like this.

ADVANCING CARE FOR ALL

2SLGBTQIA+ individuals in Canada have access to many options for assisted human reproduction. Depending on their circumstances, needs and aspirations for their families, that could look like adoption, surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfers and others — not dissimilar to all communities seeking fertility support.

These impacts may sound familiar to anyone navigating fertility healthcare. But 2SLGBTQIA+ advocates in Canada have raised the alarm that their communities are disproportionately affected, in addition to being met far more frequently withintersectional barriers.3

This is not surprising when the gender, sexually and diverse (GSD) community often report not feeling represented through their fertility journey. Whether not asking the individual how they refer to their bodies and related care needs, being misgendered or not having a box to tick on a form that represents them correctly, these issues can cause additional distress during an already difficult period.

With this in mind, while my team and I continue the work we do to advance breakthrough innovations in fertility healthcare, we do so alongside advocating for real change to help achieve a truly equitable and inclusive healthcare experience for everyone. At EMD Serono, we are passionate about supporting the dreams of all Canadians to grow their families. We will live this vision by continuing to evolve our team culture to be even more inclusive than it already is and do our part to enhance the patient experience for those undergoing fertility care. 

MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

That simple, human act of sharing continues to help inspire new ways for us to put hopes into action together. That’s why it’s important in moments like World Infertility Awareness Month to champion voices of everyone’s lived experiences, and even put them in the spotlight in our education and programming. When everyone’s story is represented in these important discussions, we can better drive meaningful change.

While World Infertility Awareness Month and Pride are technically over, this should not be an excuse to stop the conversation, education, awareness, and action for both infertility and Pride. My team has two big takeaways: firstly, the learnings we uncover should serve to ignite ongoing advocacy and action. And, most importantly, within that advocacy and action, we must ensure we are taking an intersectional approach that acknowledges the extra burdens that come with different lived experiences while navigating infertility.

 

1 https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/fertility/fertility.html

2 https://www.rainbowhealthontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/AHRCBOOKLETENGLISH.pdf

3 https://reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12978-021-01214-8