1. Infertility is common
Around one million married couples in the United States suffer from infertility. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after trying for one year for a couple under 35. A couple over 35 is deemed infertile after trying to conceive for six months. Unfortunately, there is still a big stigma surrounding infertility; this may prevent some couples or individuals from seeking fertility treatment. This can only be changed by discussing infertility more openly.
2. Infertility is not just a woman’s problem
Many people hold the misconception that infertility is due to physical problems with the woman. This is a misconception that has existed for centuries. However, in around 20% of cases of infertile couples, both male and female factors contribute to the issue. Couples who are struggling with infertility should see a fertility specialist so the root of the problem can be diagnosed. Once a diagnosis has been made, the specialist will inform the couple of any available treatment options.
3. Infertility can be due to male factors
In an estimated 8% of infertile couples, the issue is caused my male factors. These factors could be related to poor sperm health or motility, or a low sperm count. Age and lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, alcohol use, and weight can all affect male fertility. There are several treatments for male infertility, such as surgical sperm retrieval techniques. For example, testicular fine-needle aspiration or microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration.
4. In vitro fertilization
Each year, more than 85,000 women in the U.S. go through IVF treatment to start a family. Surprisingly doctors have been trying to fertilize mammalian eggs in a laboratory since 1878. But the first IVF baby wasn’t born until 1978. Since then, fertility treatments have come a long way, particularly with the development of cryopreservation to freeze sperm eggs and fertilized embryos. The latter gives couples or the opportunity to try for another baby in the future.
5. IVF Success and age
The chance for a woman under 35 years of age to become pregnant with one IVF cycle is 52%. The chance of a successful pregnancy decreases as a woman ages. For example, in women between the ages of 38 and 40, the chance is reduced to 36%. For women over the age of 40, the chance is reduced to 8%. Older women may increase the chances of a successful live birth by having IVF treatment using donor eggs.
6. Women are waiting longer to start a family
In the United States, more and more women are waiting until the ages of 30 and 40 to start a family. At this time, around 20% of women have a first child after the age of 35. Because many women over the age of 35 have fertility problems, more women in this age group are seeking fertility treatment. As well as age, lifestyle factors such as weight, alcohol consumption, and smoking can affect a woman’s fertility.
7. Women who choose fertility treatment
Around 44% of women who suffer from fertility issues have sought medical help. The reason that this number is not higher could be for several reasons. Firstly, there is still a stigma around infertility, and many women feel uncomfortable discussing infertility with family and friends, some do not even feel comfortable discussing infertility with the potential partner. Secondly, some women may not realize that there are treatments available for the condition. Thirdly, some fertility treatments can be costly; some women may feel that IVF is not affordable.
8. Infertility treatment
Around 85 to 90% of infertility cases are treated with either drug therapy such as ovulation stimulation hormones, or surgical procedure, such as removal of scar tissue in the uterus. Advanced reproductive technologies, such as IVF, are used in fewer than 3% of cases. Many couples and individuals who are struggling with infertility are not aware that so many different options are available. If couples were aware of the multiple options, perhaps more infertile couples would seek fertility treatment.
9. Birth rates are declining
In 2017, fertility hit an all-time low. The number of births in that year fell in almost all groups of women under the age of 40. The only age group which saw an increase in birth rates was women over 40.
Paving the way to raising awareness about infertility
Only by talking about infertility can women and men banish the stigma surrounding this health issue. Infertility is a physical medical condition and is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Furthermore, there are many advanced reproductive technologies available which enable infertile couples and individuals to start a family.
Open a discussion on fertility
Infertility needs to be discussed more among people who suffer from this condition. But infertility also needs to become a more discussed health issue in medical training, in school health classes, and in the general public health realm. Perhaps then, health care providers, educators, government bodies, and insurance companies may pay more attention to infertility and fertility treatments.