How many people are affected by infertility around the world?
Infertility affects one in six people around the world, and there isn’t enough affordable care, according to a big new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), a UN agency based in Geneva.
Infertility is a reproductive disease that affects both men and women. It is defined by not being able to get pregnant after 12 months or more of regular, unprotected sexual activity.
The WHO looked at all important studies on infertility from 1990 to 2021 to make the new estimates. The study shows that 17.5% of adults will have trouble getting pregnant at some point in their lives.
The UN health office said that the rates for high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries are “similar.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement, “The report shows an important fact: infertility does not care who you are.”
“The sheer number of people affected shows how important it is to increase access to fertility care and make sure this issue isn’t pushed to the side in health research and policy, so that there are safe, effective, and affordable ways to become a parent.”
WHO said that even though infertility is common, diagnosis and treatment, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), are not well-funded, so people can’t afford them.
Many people have no choice but to pay for the costs out of their own pockets, which often has terrible results.
WHO’s Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, Dr. Pascale Allotey, said that millions of people who seek treatment for infertility end up in a “medical poverty trap” because their health care prices are so high.
WHO says that people in poorer countries spend a bigger share of their money on care for their fertility than people in richer countries do.
The UN health agency has also published new study on the costs of infertility in low- and middle-income countries that it helped pay for.
Based on these numbers, one round of IVF can cost more than the average annual salary.
“Better policies and public funding can make it much easier for poor households to get treatment and keep them from falling into poverty as a result,” Dr. Allotey insisted.
WHO pointed out that infertility was also linked to “distress and stigma,” as well as a higher chance of violence from a close partner.
Infertility has many negative effects on people’s health all over the world, so Dr. Allottey pushed for it to be a goal for universal health coverage.
The WHO study said, “Fertility care is an important part of sexual and reproductive health, and addressing infertility can help reduce gender inequality.”
Not only are there not enough services, but there is also not enough study.
WHO points out that many countries have a “persistent” lack of data about infertility.
To fix this, WHO has asked for better national data on infertility that are “disaggregated by age and by cause” so that interventions can be targeted and prevention can be helped.