Infertility: disease, lifestyle choice or just bad luck?

Chandler: Apparently, my sperm have low motility, and you have an inhospitable environment.

Monica: Oh. What does that mean?

Chandler: It means that my guys won’t get off their barcaloungers, and you have a uterus that is prepared to kill the ones that do.

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Infertility was once referred to asthe ‘silent disorder’ buthas now found its ‘voice’. Around 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving which is approximately 3.5 millionpeople in the UK. It is unknown whether the biological inability to conceive, as a deviation from the norm, can be classed as a disease.

If everyone has a right to a child the health care system has a duty to make technology available, right? But why so expensive when most couples can make a baby for ‘free’? Each IVF cycle costs between £1000-3000 and that’s if it works first time! More and more couples are demanding free fertility treatment but isn’t it more important to spend the NHS’s money saving lives than creating more lives?

 

A study in Fertility and Sterility found that women who worked on stress reduction while undergoing fertility treatments had a 32% higher success rate than people who received IVF without a stress management programme. *Books in for a yoga class* What about infertile people who don’t want children? If it’s not affecting them in everyday life, is it still a disease? Does this mean then that the desire to have a child is a wish and not a need? And the priority in health care is to meet people’s needs.. What if the infertility is self-inflicted? Women over the age of 35 are more likely to have problems conceiving. If women deliberately delay pregnancy in order to focus on their career they risk having fertility problems when the time is right. (Is there ever a right time?) Most women tend to stress that we lose most of our eggs by age 30, but even if we have lost 90,000 eggs by then that still leaves 10,000 which is enough for 10,000 babies! Some women are even ‘testing’ their fertility following worries about myths and leading to unwanted pregnancies.3

Even if not technically a disease infertility is certainly a health problem, and because some people can’t help having the condition it does deserve medical attention. A lot of infertile people turn to blogs to create a ‘fertility family’; there are many written by gay parents, single mothers and couples devoted to all aspects of and responses to infertility. Fertility support groups are also available as well as counselling which is recommended.

Author Information

Samantha Wake,University of Nottingham Medical Physiology and Therapeutics student who write for  http:/samandryan’sblog.wordpress.com

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