A new report carried out by the World Health Organisation has found that 1 in 6 people worldwide experience infertility.
The new study finds that with around 17.5% of the world’s population being affected by fertility issues, there is an “urgent need to increase access to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those in need”.
The research shows ‘limited variation’ in the prevalence of infertility between regions, but found comparable rates of infertility across high-, middle- and low-income countries, to indicate a “major health challenge globally”.
Lifetime prevalence was 17.8% in high-income countries and 16.5% in low- and middle-income countries, according to the report.
The Director-General at WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated, “The report reveals an important truth: infertility does not discriminate”.
“The sheer proportion of people affected show the need to widen access to fertility care and ensure this issue is no longer sidelined in health research and policy, so that safe, effective, and affordable ways to attain parenthood are available for those who seek it”.
WHO have described the full definition of 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”.
The report finds that infertility treatments such as IVF are, “Underfunded and inaccessible to many due to high costs, social stigma and limited availability”, as in most countries, the treatments are funded out of pocket.
Dr Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO has said, “Millions of people face catastrophic healthcare costs after seeking treatment for infertility, making this a major equity issue and all too often, a medical poverty trap for those affected”.
“Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result”.