He started, as many things do, with an Instagram DM. About a year ago, a WNBA player Nika Ogomec get closer modern fertility., an at-home fertility testing company, has a potential partnership idea. The WNBA has established itself as a leader in women’s sports with a new historic collective bargaining agreement that guarantees significant increases and paid parental leave to players. Can they also help destigmatize conversations about reproductive health?
As president of the WNBA Players Association, Ogwumike was instrumental in negotiating the collective bargaining agreement. She was already focusing on female reproductive health as part of her work to promote equality in sport – and Modern Fertility seemed like a natural partner.
“We’ve been telling stories, even from our coaches and families, that you have to play as long as possible and have children as soon as possible,” Ogwumike says. “So it comes with this fear of having to give up your career to have kids in a world where everyone tells you you should have kids. And that’s not everyone’s story.”
Ogwumike’s work with Modern Fertility to Provide fertility tests– which measures seven hormones that affect fertility, including AMHOvarian Reserve Index – for all WNBA players for free, plus access to an additional consultation. Their partnership has inspired too New campaign From Modern Fertility, which centers around the voices of great athletes like WNBA’s Candace Parker and professional soccer player Sydney Leroux and seeks to stimulate a more open discussion of reproductive health and fertility across professional sports.
Many working women struggle with the delicate balance between family planning and career aspirations. But athletes depend almost entirely on their bodies for their careers, which makes making decisions about their reproductive health very risky. “Having a family was very important to me,” says Parker, who had her first child at the age of 23. “I was able to have my daughter at such a young age and continue to balance being a mother, but also keep doing it as I love. I wouldn’t change her in any way. Shape, shape, shape – however, I think everyone’s journey is different.”
The implicit message for many athletes was that they shouldn’t compromise their careers by having children too early – an idea often reinforced by public reactions to players who become pregnant in the prime of their careers. As part of the Modern Fertility campaign, Leroux shared “there is a huge stigma around being a mother and being an athlete”. “When I got pregnant for the first time, everyone said, ‘Oh, you’re going to retire.’ Ask questions you don’t know you should.” “That is the challenge. You talk about fertility hormones, and people don’t even know what that is or what it’s all about [they’re] You go through the process.”
These are the kinds of experiences Modern Fertility hopes to advance through its campaign, launched today with an introductory video, with the tagline “I refuse to let my fertility be a mystery.” Over the next month, the campaign will be publishing testimonials each week from Parker, Lero, soccer player Kelly O’Hara and retired gymnast Aly Raisman.
“The most powerful thing is that we get out of the way,” says Carly Leahy, co-founder of Modern Fertility. “For us, from a brand perspective, it’s just: Let’s support these amazing people telling their stories and talking about how they think about this very complex issue.”
Sure, the campaign is the first in modern fertility in terms of scope – and a strategic one at that – but it’s also a microcosm of the knowledge gap the company has tried to address since its inception. “The athletes seem to embody almost the most extreme case of what we’ve been talking about with women day in and day out in our society, about the need for more information to plan for their future and their lives,” Leahy says. Modern fertility which was It was acquired over $225 million last year By digital health company Ro, she focused on what she calls the pre-conception space because fertility testing hasn’t been traditionally available or affordable to most women, with costs in excess of $1,000. The first time many people undergo any kind of fertility testing is after they struggled to get pregnant. (Modern Fertility Test is only $159 and requires only a finger prick.)
Leahy says that when people are empowered with this kind of information early in their lives, it gives them more options, regardless of what family planning might look like. “There is no fertility crystal ball – there is no test you can take [says] “Yes, you’ll have a healthy baby tomorrow,” says Leahy. “But women are smart, and they understand: If I check my cholesterol, it won’t tell me whether or not I’ll have a heart attack tomorrow. It helps me understand where I am and helps me plan ahead.”
This does not mean that fertility testing is a complete solution, or that it can mitigate the effects of more systemic problems, from the dearth of affordable childcare options to the fact that women disproportionately bear childcare when they choose to have children. (There is, too some controversy about how effective AMH and other hormones are as indicators for people not already dealing with infertility.) But since Modern Fertility has handed out tests to WNBA players, Ogwumike says, conversations about fertility and family planning are already happening more frequently across the league. I’ve already heard from gamers who want to take fertility tests for their partners and others who want to understand how birth control affects test results; Ogomic herself had questions about how PCOS might affect her fertility and her hormones.
“The most I’ve learned is that there is a lot of fear-mongering in women and their professions when it comes to fertility,” she says. “And when you are given the resources you need to make those decisions yourself, it really isn’t as frightening or imminent as people seem. Everyone’s situation is different, but I think the lack of information created the fear.”
And while that pressure may increase in sports, Ogomec knows that people in all kinds of industries and backgrounds face obstacles when it comes to navigating their reproductive health along with their careers — and that seeing athletes speak can help remove the stigma of the experience for them. every one of them.
“When we signed our collective bargaining agreement in 2020, the support we got and the feedback we got from women who weren’t even involved in sports was amazing,” she says. “After this historic year, it was clear to us that we represent a lot of what women go through – no matter how unconventional our jobs are, we also go through the same things.”