Updated: Sep 27
Since more and more women every year face challenges with fertility the demand for medically assisted reproduction has increased.
Infertility refers to ‘a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. It is reported by The
Fertility Society of Australia that one in six couples or 15% of the couples in Australia and New Zealand may suffer from infertility at some point. The average age of women in Australia having their first child was recorded as 31.2 years in 2016. This increased maternal age comes with an increased risk of infertility. The need for medically assisted reproduction (MAR) is formerly referred to as assisted reproductive technology.
Medically assisted reproduction includes a group of treatments or procedures from which the best known is in vitro fertilization. From 1978 when the first in vitro child was born until 2017 have resulted in more than six million births worldwide with the help of medically assisted reproduction. This has created the idea in much of the popular media that science can overcome all fertility difficulties, irrespective of the cause. However, from the 77.721 in vitro fertilization cycles initiated in Australia and New Zealand during 2015, only 18.1% resulted in a live delivery.
Due to misconceptions and gaps in knowledge, women are often unaware of the risks related to delayed childbearing. Lack of understanding of natural fertility, infertility and the role of medically assisted reproduction can lead to emotional suffering and changes in family plans.
Many studies of general understanding of fertility, infertility, and MAR have been conducted in Australia and internationally in recent years. Three others were conducted in North Queensl and assessed public knowledge of contraceptive methods, emergency contraception, and abortion services. All studies found significant gaps in knowledge regarding reproductive health within their target populations.
The ability to define infertility has been overlooked by many preceding studies, with only two recently assessing for it, and subsequently demonstrating limited awareness. The first step to address any difficulty should be to acknowledge and define the problem. Understanding the relationship between time and infertility becomes crucial in deciding when it becomes necessary to seek medical attention.
Previous studies have determined that gender, education and prior experience with fertility health care contributed to knowledge levels.