Relationship expert and media personality Andrea Syrtash has been hiding a secret.

“While I’ve been on TV, I’ve had fertility shots in my purse, I’ve ran back and forth to my doctor, I’ve shown up on set after I’ve miscarried,” Syrtash, a Toronto native, confesses in an introduction video for her new website Pregnantish.

“I’ve been navigating a five-year fertility story I cannot produce, as much as I try.”

After searching for resources that weren’t dry, clinical approaches to infertility and coming up empty-handed, Syrtash started her own online community — one that focuses on the emotional, spiritual and relationship aspects of infertility. Since its soft launch on Jan. 24, Pregnantish has received thousands of hits — proof, Syrtash said, that she wasn’t alone in her search for support and a sense of community.

The Star spoke to Syrtash, now based in New York City, about the driving force behind ishPregnantish, her own challenges with fertility and why information on parenting or medical websites just doesn’t cut it.

What was the inspiration behind Pregnantish?

I think we’re serving a need that’s been very underserved, which is to create lifestyle content that’s not medical that helps people navigate the often overwhelming process of fertility treatments and infertility. I created Pregnantish because I felt there was a real gap in the marketplace, and there was a place that was needed to help people with the personal and practical sides.

Why do you think this gap exists, in the first place?

I think there’s still, sadly, a bit of a taboo around infertility. I think part of the reason is because people going through it aren’t necessarily open about what they’re going through. And this obviously isn’t just affecting women, but I think anytime it comes to women and their bodies and their reproductive lives, people get uncomfortable talking about it. I’m hoping we have more dialogue and smart talk about this because it’s affecting millions of people.

In the introduction video for the site, you talk about how your own challenges with infertility. Can you tell me more about that?

Over five years, I’ve gone through approximately 18 to 20 fertility treatments with eight different doctors and I have seen how isolating it can be, how confusing and overwhelming it can be, how high the cost is. I’m a media personality and a relationship author and I felt that this is an area that we’re not really talking about but is affecting relationships in the deepest way — it’s affecting the relationships that a woman has to her body, to her partner, and if she doesn’t have a partner, it affects her relationship she has to dating, if she’s dating. It affects the relationship she has to her workplace — should she tell her boss that she’s late to work because she’s at her fertility doctor? I’m basically saying, “Hey everybody — fertility, that’s the trend today.”

Has building this resource been helpful for you, in regards to dealing with your own challenges?

It’s been helpful for me because even though I’m still going through (treatments) and that’s not easy, I do feel encouraged that I’m helping other people. It feels very authentic for me to support people who are going through this life-slash-relationship challenge, and I’m reminded, every day, that I’m not alone. What I’ve learned is, if you’re between the age of 28 and 45, you either have personally been affected by this in some way or someone you know is going through it.

What’s the response to Pregnantish been like?

We’ve done no promotion other than one Facebook post I posted that said, “I’ve launched this.” It got shared a few hundred times. A lot of people have said, “My friend needs this,” or “My family member needs this,” or “I need this.” People are clicking on the articles and on the video and sharing it, and I’ve been contacted by women all over the world. I was written to by a woman from New Zealand. I don’t, honestly, know how it spread so fast but it just reinforces that we’re on to something important.

Pregnantishhas sections for singles and members of the LGBT community. Why was that important for you?

I included both singles and LGBTQ because I know that it’s affecting both. Obviously, if you’re not heterosexual and you’re not adopting and you want children, you’re going to need infertility treatments or some kind of support. My mission statement is that we’re helping the millions of people — singles, couples, LGBT — navigate the personal and practical parts of infertility and fertility treatments.

What do you hope users take away from the site?

I want them to feel that they shouldn’t feel ashamed. We need to connect, we need support and it’s OK to admit that we need that. Right now, advice about infertility lives primarily, if it’s not on medical sites, on parenting sites, which is a very strange place for this content. While you’re going through infertility, you don’t necessarily want to have to go through pages of happy families, pregnant women, to get to your section on infertility, so I want people to know, there’s a destination for us. And it’s not a sad place, there’s a lot of uplifting content, there’s a lot of support, there’s community.

Pregnantish officially launches on April 23, the start of National Infertility Awareness Week.

Interview edited for length and clarity

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