According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), infertility affects one out of every six couples of reproductive age, yet it’s a problem which, in most cases, patients only address when they have to go to an assisted reproduction clinic after attempting and failing to obtain a natural pregnancy.
The problem of infertility, despite it being a pathology that affects a large percentage of the population, is still related to a social stigma that can only be broken down if we manage to normalise it and talk about it openly.
Reproductive education, particularly with regard to the ovarian reserve (and the effect of the passage of time on the quantity and quality of the eggs) is essential to enable society to have reliable criteria upon which it can base its reproductive decisions. In fact, it is estimated that 30% of assisted reproduction cycles due to a low ovarian reserve could have been avoided if patients had had the necessary information at the right time and been able to act in advance.
Generally speaking, the likelihood of a woman becoming pregnant decreases after the age of 35, in such a way that from the age of 40 onwards achieving a natural pregnancy with her own eggs is very difficult and, even if one occurs, the risk of a miscarriage increases. Society should be aware that, when a woman enters her forties, although it’s possible for her to become pregnant and have a healthy child, this is the exception and not the rule (at 44, for example, the probability is less than 1%).
It’s primarily the medical sector’s responsibility to raise awareness of this through the different channels available to us. However, we mustn’t forget that the media and public figures from all walks of life can play a very important role, as the impact of their message is much greater than any we can achieve in the health sector. It is therefore essential that they convey no contradictory or incorrect messages.
Fortunately, more and more public figures are sharing their fertility problems openly and they’ve been able to become parents thanks to assisted reproduction techniques. There are celebrities who’ve even revealed intimate details such as having to resort to a donor’s eggs or a surrogate uterus (surrogate womb), thus helping to break down the stigma of infertility and enabling the rest of society to cope with it in a more natural and everyday manner.
Information is power and educating the new generations about fertility in a clear manner will undoubtedly enable them to plan their maternity better and act without the problems of self-esteem, guilt and shame that are so common today, due largely to misconceptions and a general lack of understanding of reproductive health.