West News Wire: According to a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one in six individuals worldwide experience infertility at some point in their lives. The report notes that more needs to be done to increase access to reasonable, high-quality fertility care.
According to the UN’s health office, infertility affects roughly 17.5% of the adult population, with little regional variation in the prevalence of infertility.
In high-income countries, the lifetime frequency was 17.8%, while in low- and middle-income nations, it was 16.5 percent.
Infertility does not discriminate, according to the study, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO.
“The sheer proportion of people affected shows 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.”
Infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system, defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of trying. For those affected, it can cause significant distress, stigma, and financial hardship, affecting their mental and psychosocial wellbeing, the WHO said.
Most medical care for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility, including assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), remain underfunded and inaccessible to many due to the high cost and limited availability.
Fertility treatments are often funded out of pocket. The UN agency found in a separate report on the costs of infertility treatments that the direct medical costs paid by patients for a single round of IVF are often higher than the average annual income.
“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,” Dr Pascale Allotey, director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at the WHO, said in the statement.
“Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result.”
The WHO report was based on studies on the global and regional prevalence of infertility from 1990 to 2021.