Campus News

Wear Orange for Infertility Awareness

A husband and wife holding hands and looking at each other while sitting at a table talking to a doctor
Photo by: Drazen Zigic; iStock / Getty Images Plus

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 19, 2021)  The University of Kentucky Staff Senate and Women’s Forum are collaborating to promote National Infertility Awareness Week®, April 18–24.

Infertility issues affect 1 in 8 couples (2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth, CDC). Created by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, National Infertility Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness about the importance of empowering people in their journey and changing the conversation around infertility. 

An infertility diagnosis presents physical, emotional and financial challenges for couples. Rachel Combs, public services manager at UK Libraries, is all too familiar with infertility challenges.

“When my husband and I were first married, we made the conscious decision to wait to start a family so that we could establish ourselves, get settled in our careers, and make sure we were financially stable," Combs said. "We assumed we had all the time in the world. So when we decided to start a family three years into our marriage, we were discouraged month after month when we looked down at a negative pregnancy test. With the countless hours in doctors' offices and labs, too many ovulation tests to count, and the expense of fertility treatments, we were mentally and emotionally exhausted. We felt so alone. It has taken years for us to feel comfortable sharing our story because of the shame that surrounds infertility, but we want to break the silence so other families facing infertility know they are not alone.” 

Kelsey Rahenkamp, senior ambulatory operations analyst at UK HealthCare, experienced similar challenges with infertility.

“When my husband and I were a few years into our marriage, we decided we were ready to take the very exciting step of starting a family," Rahenkamp said. "But as time drew on and we continued to see not two, but one lonely line on the pregnancy test, we were hit with the very unexpected reality that we were infertile. What we thought would be an easy step for us turned into years of grueling emotional distress and intense financial pressure.”

Rahenkamp and her partner found comfort in sharing their story, so she partnered with RESOLVE to offer a monthly, peer-led support group for couples currently dealing with infertility. New members are welcome. For more information, email resolvelexingtonky@gmail.com.

Together, the Staff Senate and Women’s Forum resolved that University of Kentucky employees should be empowered by knowledge, supported by community, united by advocacy, and inspired to act to support their colleagues along their journey to become parents.

The Staff Senate and the Women’s Forum encourage employees to wear orange April 18–24 to unite millions of Americans who want to remove the stigmas and barriers that stand in the way of building families. If you want to show your support, join the orange movement Wednesday, April 21, and rock your ORANGE gear to show your support of National Infertility Awareness Week®. Whether it’s you, or someone you know who struggles to build a family, #WearOrange! In addition to wearing orange, you can spread awareness about infertility by sharing UK Staff Senate and UK Women’s Forum social media posts April 18–24.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $501 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.