Standing Up for Infertility: An Interview with Amber Izzo

04/26/2020

Amber Izzo, based in the UK, is an advocate for generating conversation and awareness of infertility. She is passionate about the fact that we need to work towards ending the stigma surrounding infertility. She speaks about the fact that her public healthcare option may stop funding IVF, which will make it a lot harder for people to access the treatment they need. “Because people are embarrassed about it, because they feel an element of shame, people don’t want to talk about it. It makes it very easy for someone to say, ‘we’re not funding that anymore’, and not have to give an explanation, because no one is going to stand against it,” she says. No one will ask ‘why’. Amber uses her online platforms to take a stand against these types of issues. “A lot of what I put out there is in an attempt to get enough out there to be able to change things,” she says. 

The path to how Amber started her blog and became an advocate for infertility awareness arose from a personal struggle. Amber began trying to conceive five years ago. She’d always had a feeling that getting pregnant would be hard for her-she’d always had irregular periods and cycles. After Amber stopped taking birth control and began to start trying to conceive, nothing happened. She tried for about a year and still wasn’t getting pregnant. She had no indication of what may be going on. 

Reflecting on this period, Amber says she got “a little obsessed” with fertility. “The next 18 months were filled with me tracking everything I could possibly track, and doing everything that Google said I should be doing, but still nothing happened,” she said. Finally after trying to conceive for three years, Amber saw a fertility specialist. This was when she was diagnosed with PCOS. She didn’t have cysts on her ovaries, but she had very irregular cycles and high levels of testosterone. All things considered, her case of PCOS was relatively mild. The doctors didn’t think this condition was enough to stop her from getting pregnant. Soon after this, Amber had a laparoscopy which revealed that both of her fallopian tubes were completely blocked. It was then that doctors told her that it was completely impossible for her to get pregnant without IVF. Amber has just started her second round of IVF, and remains hopeful for a success. 

It was September of 2018 when she was diagnosed, as she describes, as “completely infertile.” This diagnosis was extremely difficult for Amber to grabbel with.  “I really struggled with that mentally and emotionally. I went on a downward spiral,” she says. In March of 2018 she has both of her fallopian tubes removed. This was also an emotionally draining experience for Amber. The whole process of diagnosis, treatment, and living with this reality took a toll on her mental health. 

 Amber felt pretty alone in her experience, and felt a need to talk to other women going through similar things. She knew that in order to better care of her mental health, she needed to find support. “I needed to get myself in a better headspace, so I decided I would start my blog, and vere my Instagram towards [infertility]. I knew there were a lot of people in my situation who didn’t want to speak. There are a lot of negative connotations when it comes to infertility.” Amber’s blog provided her with her first real sense of community. People in her life had been supportive of her throughout these obstacles, but they couldn’t really understand what she was going through. “There’s only so much that people can do to sympathize. I think there’s a big difference between empathizing and sympathizing. A lot of people didn’t understand if they hadn’t gone through it themselves,” she says. When she spoke with the women on her blog and Instagram, she describes it as “my first sense of speaking with people who really understood.” She recently had a meet up with some of the women she knows from Instagram. “It was so nice to be able to sit there and talk about things without having to explain what you mean,” she explained. “It just makes everything that much easier that they completely understand how you feel.” Amber has found a supportive and empathetic community through her online platforms. 

Amber hopes to help the readers of her blog realize that there is a supportive community of women going through similar obstacles. “To be honest, I just want people to feel less alone. It’s really quite scary to get a diagnosis, or reach a certain point where testing starts happening, it’s very lonely.” Aside from supporting others through difficult times, she wants to raise awareness in order to shift healthcare policy. She believes that many people don’t realize how many individuals are affected by infertility. “You wouldn’t guess how many people go through this based on how little people talk about it,” she said. By generating conversation about infertility, and treating it like a health issue that deserves attention, Amber is working to ensure that everyone gets the treatment and support they need.