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Sexual and reproductive health

Fertility and infertility – Assisting couples and individuals

Image showing a painting and photos of individuals
"Femme fleur", painting by Christine Meynent, 2010

It is the choice of each individual and couple, within their own sense of conscience, to determine if they intend pregnancy, and if so, the size of their family unit and the timing of when to have a child or children.
If fertility problems arise, interventions can be attempted from simple fertility awareness methods to more advanced methods associated with in vitro fertilization. These interventions are scientifically innovative; and, they have revolutionized concepts of generational identity, family, and human reproductive potential.

Definitions and terminology of infertility and key issues

"Petit bijou" - Painting by Christine Meynent, 2009

Definitions and terminology impact many of the key issues associated with subfertility and infertility. Consistency in use of definition and a standardized methodological diagnostic tool will be required in order to define the true global burden of disease – in men and women.

Generating evidence-based guidelines - Challenges, controversies and innovative solutions

"Regarder devant" - Painting by Christine Meynent

Generation of WHO evidence-based guidelines and recommendations are based upon systematic reviews and GRADING of available clinical, epidemiological and operations research as well as systematic analysis of existing and recently developed evidence-based guidelines. Subsequently, clinical manuals will be developed which will recommend best practice. Despite challenges and controversies surrounding provision and access to assisted reproduction, innovative solutions are being found.

Global burden of infertility

"L'homme au chapeau" "Femme cachée" (paintings C. Meynent)

One in every four couples in developing countries had been found to be affected by infertility, when an evaluation of responses from women in Demographic and Health Surveys from 1990 was completed in collaboration with WHO in 2004. The burden remains high. A WHO study, published at the end of 2012, has shown that the overall burden of infertility in women from 190 countries has remained similar in estimated levels and trends from 1990 to 2010.

Portrait of a young woman in Myanmar
E. Petitpierre

Infertility in developing countries

“In a world that needs vigorous control of population growth, concerns about infertility may seem odd, but the adoption of a small family norm makes the issue of involuntary infertility more pressing. If couples are urged to postpone or widely space pregnancies, it is imperative that they should be helped to achieve pregnancy when they so decide, in the more limited time they will have available.” Mahmoud Fathalla, Former Director of HRP*.

* UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research 66顺彩票app in Human Reproduction has been widely known for many years by the abbreviation (HRP)


66顺彩票appInfertility can lead to shame, stigma, anxiety, depression, low feelings of self-esteem and guilt. While there are now many options to treat infertility, many still can’t access these due to the cost of treatment and lack of services, which leaves them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Listen to the message of Dr Tedros, as he speaks about WHO’s work on addressing the burden of infertility to help countries provide people with safe, effective and affordable services.


Societies addressing infertility


Non-profit organizations addressing infertility

The Walking Egg - The Low Cost IVF Foundation - Steptoe-Edwards Research Trust

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