They say there are two topics you should never discuss at a dinner party: politics and religion. But there are more taboos than that. Just try asking a colleague what their salary is compared to yours, or riffing on your mental health issues with your Tinder date.
When it comes to Millennial women, there's one topic in particular that's hard to discuss, but is critical to both health and life in general:
Celmatix polled 1,000 women aged 25 - 33 who either have children, want them, or may want them. Here are a few surprising things they found:
Two-thirds of Millennial women worry about their ability to have kids, but most keep their concerns to themselves
39% of women don't talk to their partners about their fertility, and nearly 60% don't talk to their moms about it (which could mean missing out on important family health info)
More than 25% of women who have frozen their eggs (or are considering doing so) have never talked to anyone about it -- including a doctor
Of women who reported freezing their eggs (or are interested in it), less than half had spoken with a partner about it
21% of those who've had miscarriages didn't tell their partners
43% of women who've had miscarriages didn't tell their friends about it
That last statistic makes me really sad. I can't imagine a friend of mine going through an event as traumatic as a miscarriage alone.
But millions of women are going through these kinds of things alone, and there's one overriding reason for it: shame.
It's hard to bring up something like egg freezing without making yourself vulnerable. Do I admit that I might not meet the right partner in time to have children "naturally"? What does that say about me? Will my friends judge me? Will my family?
Do I judge me?
Celmatix, the company behind the poll, was founded by CEO Piraye Yurttas Beim, who herself was diagnosed with a fertility issue: diminished ovarian reserve. She was 32 at the time.
Fast Company called Celmatix one of the most innovative companies of 2017. It uses big data to help the 7 million American women who have trouble conceiving get the right info for them, by comparing them to other women like them (instead of antiquated health data).
Now, Celmatix is getting involved with the personal side of things: encouraging women to break their silence and let go of fertility shame.
They're calling it the #SayTheFWord campaign. For every woman that pledges to #SayTheFWord (i.e. I will speak to my doctor about freezing my eggs; I'll break the silence about my miscarriage), the company will donate $1 to causes like the Women's March, Planned Parenthood, and RESOLVE.
Plus, it's providing quality info on reproductive health, including discussion guides, inspiring stories from real women, and giveaways. Allies for #SaytheFword include (these are all women-led companies):
Maven - A digital clinic that helps women book video appointments with health practitioners (so you don't have to physically go into a clinic)
Flutter - A period-tracking app that also tracks symptoms that can show early indications of endometriosis and other reproductive illnesses (this is really smart, and every young woman should get it)
Fruitful - A free fertility mentorship matching program that connects those in need of
emotional support with those who've made it through infertility firsthand. One in eight couples has trouble conceiving -- we've got to make it normal to talk about this
Tia - A personal, private women's health advisor app -- you can have a private, one-on-one conversation about things like which birth control to pick; STI information; cycle symptoms, and more (again, without having to go into an OB/GYN's office)
Progyny - a smarter way of getting fertility benefits. They work with the best doctors to offer innovative treatments for fertility, with an eye towards compassion and efficacy
Fairygodboss - A marketplace for professional women looking for jobs, advice, and honest info on companies to meet employers who believe in gender equality
Last year, a good friend of mine wrote publicly about an abortion she'd had. She did it to contribute to the women's movement protesting the new administration. She did it even though she realized she might be shamed or denigrated for it.
She did it because she knew that every time we tell our story, someone else feels less alone.
These are very personal topics. They strike at the very heart of womanhood -- our bodies, our identities, our futures.
It's time to be heard about the things that really matter, and to make it safe for others to share. We're all in it together, and we don't have to do it alone.
Pledge to #SayTheFWord.
"There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it." - Alice Paul