The World Health Organization (WHO) defines infertility as “a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse” (source).
Infertility can also be categorized as primary, (a pregnancy has never occurred) or secondary (infertility follows a previous successful pregnancy).
Global Impact and Varied Circumstances
While laws regarding same-sex couples or single parents vary across the world, these populations are also unable to conceive children without the use of fertility treatment.
The Global Landscape of Infertility
It is now estimated that one in six people of reproductive age worldwide experience infertility at some point in their lifetime. Infertility can be the result of male and/or female factors, though one’s cause of infertility can also be unknown.
Navigating Emotional Challenges
Infertility can have an emotional impact on one’s self-esteem and relationship with others. It’s recommended that anyone experiencing infertility seeks professional help to process and manage the emotional impact of infertility.
Fertility Treatments: A Path Towards Conception
A diagnosis of infertility can often require fertility treatments such as ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination (IUI), and in vitro fertilization (IVF). These treatments aim to overcome the obstacles one is facing in order to conceive. For example, a woman with blocked fallopian tubes (the bilateral reproductive organs that span from the uterus to the ovaries, in which an egg travels down following ovulation and fertilization can occur) may require IVF to bypass the blocked tubes. Fertility treatment does not guarantee a healthy live birth, but it has helped millions of people build their families since the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978.