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.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.