A new study has found that women with lower education and less income are less likely to seek infertility treatment. Meanwhile, those with higher incomes, as well as higher education levels are more likely to seek the help they need to get pregnant.
According to the research, almost 80 per cent of the women who had a college degree sought medical help for their infertility compared to 33 per cent of women who only had a high school degree or less. The findings were published in Fertility and Sterility. Researchers are not surprised by the numbers because fertility treatment can be expensive, from looking for the right kind of test to trying procedures like in vitro fertilization.
"We hope these findings spur more research and policy changes to address inequities in infertility access," lead author Angela Kelley, M.D., an OB/GYN at the University of Michigan's Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital, told a news portal. Adding, "Clinicians may also consider outreach to target specific, underrepresented, and underserved patient populations who may not seek infertility care but who would benefit from seeing a provider."
Apart from fertility treatment, researchers also urge women to make healthier lifestyle choices to increase their chances of getting better. Experts recommend women eat the right foods, exercise, as well as manage their levels of stress. "Current research suggests it affects one in six couples trying to have a baby and appears to be more common as couples delay trying to have a baby until into their 30s. However, the age of the woman is not necessarily the main reason for the delay – it may be just that the problem causing the infertility is only revealed once a woman has started trying," Cindy Farquhar, a fertility expert, stated in a news portal.
Researchers hope their findings shed light on the importance of bringing awareness about infertility and the options available to tackle this issue. They also hope fertility treatment can become affordable for all women.
Some health experts suggest this type of treatment should be covered by health insurance. "Infertile couples have now options such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment where the eggs and sperm are combined and fertilised 'in vitro' (outside the body in controlled environment). It has come up as a boon for those who face difficulty in conceiving naturally," Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, a gynaecologist, obstetrician and IVF expert, told a news portal. Adding, "But the cost of IVF procedure in India varies from ₹1 lakh to ₹2.5 lakh which is expensive for many of the couples. Therefore, they either avoid treatment or take debt for the desire of a baby. We need to reduce both financial and physical risks. Experts can take care of physical and medical risks, however, insurers can help in a big way to minimise financial risks."