Your Path to Pregnancy is an interview series highlighting conception stories from real couples, brought to you by Beli Vitality for Men, a male prenatal for optimum fertility. We spoke to Arielle about the importance of taking reproductive health into our own hands, and finding joy in pregnancy after fertility treatment.
We’re big fans of CoFertility, your site that provides answers to questions from real people who are trying to conceive. We feel such a kinship with your mission of helping every couple on their unique fertility journey. What led you to create the site?
I went on a 2.5 year long journey to get pregnant. While experiencing infertility, I had tons of questions, and I’d ask everyone—doctors, nurses, technicians, friends, family—basically, anyone who would listen. Especially because my diagnosis was relatively unexplained, I had an insatiable appetite for knowledge and wanted to soak it up like a sponge.
At the time, I was fortunate enough to live in New York City with access to amazing resources and a team of nationally-recognized experts handling my care. But when their answers weren’t enough, when I still had—gasp!—more questions, guess where I turned? Yep, I sought answers on the internet.
When I looked online, I found some useful information. But as someone with a brand marketing background, I felt that the 1 in 8 American couples facing fertility challenges deserved a better experience of getting information online. As a member of this club, I knew what was missing—a helpful, educational resource to quickly answer specific fertility questions, with a dose of keep-it-real personality. CoFertility was born.
Of those 1 in 8 couples, one third of fertility troubles are attributed to male factors. Women can find loads of recommendations for nutrition and rest and healthy movement, but there are far fewer prenatal wellness resources for men. Do you hear from men who are experiencing infertility?
Definitely. At CoFertility, we hear from a lot of people looking for content that pertains to male factor infertility. Everything on our site is inspired by actual real-world questions people have about infertility. Do Male Fertility Supplements Actually Work? What’s It Like to Get a Semen Analysis for Infertility?
We also don’t just cover infertility. We strive to cover as many fertility questions as we can in a trustworthy way, including longer-term information about reproductive health.
Love that. We’re invested in the idea that fertility wellness should be seen more holistically; less as a set of fires to be put out, and more as an illuminating piece of the overall health picture.
Taking charge of your own fertility health is very empowering. Our site makes it easy to find information about treatments, understanding insurance coverage, finding clinics nearby, and applying for financial grants for treatment.
Even in normal times, there are access barriers to reproductive healthcare. At-home access to fertility resources is crucial.
We did a study about barriers to infertility treatment which showed that, of people who have undergone fertility treatment or who are currently undergoing fertility treatment, 86% of them have forgone, or would forgo, treatment recommended to them by their doctors due to cost.
Geography can also be a barrier. It’s comparable to the idea of food deserts in lower income communities, where there isn’t nearby access to fresh food. There are fertility treatment deserts, too. Some people live two hours away from the closest clinic, and that’s a huge barrier.
This time of pandemic and quarantine is underscoring the way folks need to take their health into their own hands. Have you noticed an increase in couples looking for ways to increase their fertility at home?
Yes. We’ve seen an uptick in people wondering what they can do for their own fertility at home. Whether that’s finding the right supplements, home fertility testing, home hormonal testing, or at-home insemination. People are motivated to improve their own health. I think that effort to regain a sense of control over our own fertility healthcare will continue, even as fertility clinics are opening back up.
Congratulations on your pregnancy, by the way!
Thanks! I’m 34 weeks pregnant now, and things have been good and healthy so far.
Did anything surprise you about becoming pregnant?
I think I knew when I got pregnant, because I’ve experienced several losses in the past, that I would be a highly anxious pregnant person. So it wasn’t surprising to me that I was indeed anxious.
I was surprised when I realized I was ready to actually embrace the pregnancy! Once I had a feeling that things would be okay, I felt able to do normal pregnancy things. And I surprised myself by being able to experience them. I can breathe and not be intensely anxious all the time.
In the beginning I struggled with sharing the pregnancy. My whole identity is really invested in the fertility community and my own infertility journey. Before we told anyone outside of our friends and family, I was a little worried about how it would be received by the infertility community when I shared that I was pregnant. But everyone was so supportive. People experiencing infertility get excited when one of their own gets pregnant.
Despite my current pregnancy, I know that I’ll always feel connected to the fertility community. Infertility changes you in an irreversible way. Just because I am pregnant now doesn’t mean I no longer feel that our current education system does a terrible job preparing us for when we do try to conceive. In fact, it’s the opposite—I actually feel an even stronger personal responsibility to improve access to information to make this process suck less. Knowledge is power, and we need more of it when it comes to our fertility.