FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- State lawmakers want to give hope to couples struggling to conceive. Assembly Bill 2029 would expand healthcare coverage for infertility treatments.
During National Infertility Awareness Week, April 24-30, those who struggle with the disease are sharing their stories to raise awareness and educate.
Jennifer Richmann has been married to her husband for almost 11 years.
"We set out like everyone else to have a child and thought it was just going to happen," she said.
However, it didn't happen, so the couple asked for help. There was a lot of testing, numerous treatments and several miscarriages.
"It was devastating to learn that this may not happen," Richmann recalled. "I remember feeling that sense of shame, and even looking at my husband and apologizing, saying 'I'm sorry that we can't do this.'"
The feelings of shame, guilt and even loneliness are felt by many infertility warriors treated by Dr. Carolina Sueldo.
She said many don't know how common the disease is -- one in eight couples are diagnosed with infertility.
"When you actually break down the statistics in the literature, it shows that men and women are affected equally," said Dr. Sueldo. "Race, it affects all races equally. Socioeconomic classes, it affects all across the board."
Like Richmann, many of Dr. Sueldo's patients seek out treatment, which can get costly.
"We've spent thousands of dollars. We've pulled out of our 401k," Richmann said. "I've taken sick time and paid time off just to be able to attend appointments."
This week, the State's health committee is discussing AB 2029 -- which, if passed, would require all health insurance plans to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of infertility and fertility services.
"Knowing that finances, a lot of times is the barrier to additional treatment and not any medical reason -- it's really devastating to me to have to have that conversation," shared Dr. Sueldo.
Both women believe passing AB 2029 would be a step toward supporting those couples struggling, and letting them know they don't need to take on this journey alone.
The 3rd annual Central California Walk of Hope is scheduled for October 16, a day dedicated to bringing the infertility community and their loved ones together.