1 in 6 globally affected by infertility
The prevalence is ‘staggering’ says the World Health Organization.
Around 17.5 per cent of the adult population – roughly 1 in 6 worldwide – experience infertility, showing the urgent need to increase access to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those in need, says WHO.
In a call to action, the WHO recommended that countries offer universal health coverage of fertility treatments, pointing to many European countries, as well as Morocco (which has made fertility treatment available in the public sector), and Indonesia (which includes it in primary care services) as leading the way.
The report analysed 133 studies from 1990 to 2021, defining infertility as a disease where a person fails to conceive a pregnancy after one year or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.
There are major disparities between high-income and low-income countries when it comes to accessing treatment such as in-vitro fertilisation.
“The costs of fertility care are an immense challenge for many people,” said Pascale Allotey, director of sexual and reproductive health and research at the WHO.
Around the world, most people pay out-of-pocket for fertility treatment. In the United States, a single round of IVF typically costs US$15,000 to US$20,000.
Patients in low-income countries without public financing options often pay significantly more than their entire annual income for one round of assisted reproductive technology. Such high costs create “a medical poverty trap for those affected,” Allotey said.
‘The costs of fertility care are an immense challenge for many people.’— Pascale Allotey, WHO.