This is Infertility is a bi-weekly podcast where we fuse narrative storytelling with experience and science to give you a new perspective on what it’s really like to go through a family building journey. Each episode dives into the emotional, physical, and financial burdens carried by those who experience infertility on their path to parenthood. Be it IVF, IUI, egg freezing, surrogacy, adoption, etc., the path is never the same and it can be long, painful, and lonely. It’s our mission to give those struggling a platform to be heard, a community connection, and an opportunity to raise awareness of the 1 in 8 who, for many reasons, struggle with infertility.
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This is Infertility

Episode 40: Infertility in the Military: Secondary Infertility and Traveling for IVF

It can be hard to balance a demanding workplace with a goal of family building, especially for active service members. If the first step to having a baby for many is timed intercourse, how do you manage this if you are in the military and have no time for intercourse?  

In today’s episode, we’ll hear from Staff Sergeant Helena Giammarco who plays the French Horn in the United States Airforce Band. Helena and her husband had no trouble conceiving their first child, but when they tried for a second, they faced roadblock after roadblock. This dilemma is called secondary infertility, when a woman is unable to get pregnant after previously giving birth to a baby, and it often comes as a surprise.  

Although age plays a significant factor in secondary infertility, as you are naturally older when you are trying for a second child, the nature of Helena’s work in the military made it increasingly more difficult. Helena shares what it was like enduring multiple rounds of IUI and dealing with the emotional trauma of multiple miscarriages, all while constantly being on the road for her job. She also depicts the challenge of having to travel back and forth between states in order to receive IVF treatment at a military clinic. 

In this episode, wlearn a little about what it’s like to experience infertility in the military, and how organizations like Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) are advocating for service women like Helenaboth past, present, and future 

Guest: Helena Giammarco, Staff Sergeant in the US Airforce 

HostJasmine Villa, Patient Care Advocate at Progyny 

If you want to hear more, here are a few episodes we’ve released on infertility in the military: 

Episode 55: Infertility in the Military: From Active Duty to Motherhood 

Episode 56: Infertility in the Military: IVF in the Field 

Episode 57: Infertility in the Military: Specialized Care for Our Heroes 

For more information, visit Progyny’s Podcast page and Service Women’s Action Network. 

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, @ThisisInfertilityPodcast and use the #ThisisInfertility. 

Have a question, comment, or want to share your story? Email us at 



Jasmine Villa
Lead Patient Care Advocate at Progyny

Jasmine has always been passionate about patient care and has eight years of healthcare experience. Jasmine’s passion and curiosity for the world around her is why she is a self-proclaimed “lifelong learner” and “answer seeker.” She is known in her community as a fierce advocate for all people, fighting tirelessly for the right to better healthcare. It brings Jasmine great joy to be part of a life-changing organization that helps to build families.



Helena Giammarco
Staff Sergeant, US Airforce

Helena started her military career in the United States Navy in 2004. She played in and soloed with the Pacific Fleet Navy Band at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii until 2008. She joined the Air Force in 2013 and is currently a member of the Air Force Band of Mid-America at Scott Air Force Base. She is married to Michael Kelly, clarinetist and educator, and they enjoy living in Illinois with their son Copland and turtle Tibby.

Music From This Episode:

Artist: Lee Rosevere
Title: What Have You Done

Title: Knowing the Truth

Title: Betrayal

Title: Completely Lost

Artist: Captive Portal
Title: What Is?

Artist: Jahzzar
Title: #1 Wish

Artist: Josh Woodward
Title: Hollow Grove Instrumental Version

Title: Private Hurricane

Title: Stars Collide Instrumental Version

Title: Under the Stairs Instrumental Version

Artist: Philipp Weigl
Title: Even when we fall