Infertility in Men and Women
Infertility is a common problem for both men and women. About 9% of men and around 11% of women of reproductive age in the United States have experienced fertility issues. Infertility issues are equally split, with one-third of men and one-third of women facing infertility, while one-third due to unknown causes.
Conception is a complicated process and there are many potential obstacles that can impact the outcome, such as age, medical conditions, hormones and more. Fortunately, if you are experiencing infertility issues, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to have your own child, thanks to medical and diagnostic advancements in infertility treatment and testing.
That being said, infertility is difficult and has an impact on people’s families, finances, and self-esteem all over the world.
The Scale and Global Impact of Infertility
Estimates suggest that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals of reproductive age live with infertility globally.
Infertility impacts those people who experience it, but also their families and communities as well due to the added stress and hardship it brings. The many medical causes of infertility in both men and women vary, depending on factors such as the prevalence of STDs in different countries and the common age range of pregnancy in a community.
The social, cultural and even financial impact globally is both wide ranging and substantial, and access to fertility care services also differs geographically.
The Socio-Cultural Impact of Infertility
Infertility has a significant negative social and cultural impact on couples’ lives, but especially with women, the societal pressure to bear children is strong. The World Health Organization states that women facing infertility “frequently experience violence, divorce, social stigma, emotional stress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.” A study done by the National Library of Medicine shows that, in both men and women, factors such as low spousal support, financial constraints, and social coercion in early years of marriage predict infertility-related distress.
The Impact of Infertility on Relationships and Self Concept
Infertility can dramatically affect the mental health of individuals and couples. That’s because infertility is often unexpected and unpredictable.
According to a study, infertile people were more dissatisfied with themselves and their marriages. Infertile couples, labeled “non-communicators'' in the study, were found to be affected even more by infertility. In addition, women felt greater discontent over time and were more emotionally invested compared to men. Unfortunately, women also commonly develop anxiety and depression from infertility.
It can be hard to untangle problems with fertility from one’s self worth, but self-judgment doesn’t help. Counseling assistance, however, from therapists or resources like nurses can be extremely helpful for individuals or couples dealing with infertility.
The Financial Impact of Infertility
Fertility treatments are extremely expensive and most private insurance does not cover treatment. The average cost of one cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF), the most common type of assisted reproductive technology, is currently around $12,000, and the success rate per cycle is about 30%.
To make matters worse, about 70% of American women who obtain IVF treatments go into debt, with 44% of women borrowing more than $10,000 for treatments.
As difficulties can increase with age, one’s infertility journey can be even more costly, sometimes leading to couples having to choose between fertility treatments and other major investments such as buying a home or paying off educational loans.
Addressing the Medical Causes of Infertility
Fertility health is naturally impacted by a variety of lifestyle risk factors such as weight, smoking and alcohol intake levels, but infertility is often the result of specific medical conditions. The good news is, many of these conditions can be managed by fertility specialists to provide the very best chance for a successful treatment for men and women in the fertility journey.
Infertility in Men
In the male reproductive system, infertility is most commonly caused by problems in the ejaculation of semen, absence or low levels of sperm, or abnormal shape (morphology) and movement (motility) of the sperm.
Infertility in Women
In the female reproductive system, infertility may be caused by a range of abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and the endocrine system, among others.
Managing the Impact of Infertility
For women, regular testing of the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) level can provide helpful information about a woman's ability to produce eggs that are viable for fertilization. An AMH test checks the health and quantity of a woman's ovarian reserve which is useful for a woman’s fertility journey.
Innovative Health Diagnostics (IHD)’s at-home AMH test can provide timely and accurate results for women looking to define their AMH level and help women chart the best path forward with their healthcare provider.
For men, semen analysis can be helpful. Semen analysis allows for an understanding of the shape, count, size, and overall makeup of a man’s sperm, which is an important factor in determining fertility potential.
IHD partners with male infertility experts, such as Mate Fertility, to offer fertility testing services such as semen analysis. This test helps men determine whether they are medically fit for reproduction based on the count and quality of their sperm.
Accessing Provider to Help with Infertility
Having awareness of and access to fertility testing partners like IHD can lessen the complexity and distress that infertility can have on individuals and couples. Through reliable fertility tests and access to timely and informative results, IHD serves as a partner to guide both men and women on their intricate and unique fertility journey - hopefully leading to successfully starting a family.
Contact the IHD team today for more information.