Infertility is something that impacts people around the world.
Defined as an inability to get pregnant despite regularly trying to conceive, its effects are numerous and devastating.
Globally, 15% of reproductive-aged couples struggle with infertility.
More research on infertility is urgently required. MDPI journals, such as Cells and Journal of Clinical Medicine, have many opportunities for the submission of high-quality research related to infertility.
The main causes of infertility are faulty fallopian tubes, medical conditions such as endometriosis, irregular menstruation, and problems with the quality of sperm.
However, for all the problems causing infertility, research has the power to combat them. In particular, there has been a focus on male infertility, a topic which has seldom been explored until very recently.
Last year, Cells published “Male Infertility is a Women’s Health Issue”, which outlines that infertility can be caused equally by the male or female reproductive systems. Much research is dedicated to infertility in the female reproductive system. The paper argues that similarly advanced diagnostics and solutions are required for male fertility issues.
There are also papers dealing with the repercussions of infertility.
In Healthcare, a paper called “Anxiety, Difficulties, and Coping of Infertile Women” provides an overview of how women dealing with infertility and undergoing infertility treatment experience high levels of anxiety, and ways that this can be improved and dealt with.
The paper details one of the many effects of infertility. It can impact the mental health of the couple trying to conceive, as well as their friends and family.
For many, procreation is an important rite of passage and life event, and its absence stalls their adult progression, and leaves them without direction.
People longing for a child may compare themselves to peers and feel a sense that something is missing, often leading to a deep depression.
Women living in developing countries also face a difficult social stigma that can affect their wellbeing and livelihoods. This is a political issue which highlights the stark difference between men and women, and developing and developed countries.
In these areas, there is an expectation placed on women of childbearing age, that they must reproduce and fulfill a socially constructed female obligation. If women do not meet these standards, there is a social burden of shame to bear instead.
As well as these personal struggles, there are human rights, economic and political issues related to fertility.
As well as being an emotional issue, it is a human rights issue. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, men and women “of full age” have the right to “found a family”.
However, this proves difficult when fertility is an issue.
Thanks to the progression of scientific research, there are now many options for those struggling with fertility.
The most common method is in vitro fertilisation (IVF), in which the sperm and egg are extracted from the respective parents and fertilised outside of the human body. After this, the embryo is placed inside the womb.
As for sperm issues, one healthy sperm can be injected into a matured egg (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
Intrauterine insemination, meanwhile, involves the best quality sperm being separated from the poorer quality sperm and injected into the womb.
However, these solutions are not always effective. Notably, 30% of infertility worldwide is “unexplained”, meaning that the causes are impossible to determine with current methods. It is only with increased scientific innovation and research that this gap in clinical knowledge can be filled.
This is having a moderate effect on the population. It is easy to instinctively think that the global population is too great, as increased human activity over the years has negatively affected the climate.
However, instead, fertility rates have been steadily falling. Fertility currently stands at 2.4 children per woman of childbearing age, compared to 2.5 in 2014 and 3 in 1993.
It is important to clarify though, that the global infertility that we are seeing today is largely due to cultural changes, rather than medical issues. There is less desire for children worldwide.
If this trend continues, it is estimated that by 2100, the fertility rate will fall to 1.5 children per woman, and continue to decline.
Improving infertility solutions will allow those who want to reproduce to do so, which may partly help this problem of decreasing population.