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Is Infertility Really a Disease?

One out of every six couples trying to conceive will experience difficulty achieving their dream of starting or growing their family. It might be something that you’re currently experiencing. If not, simply look at couples around you and certainly you will know or suspect someone who is silently suffering from fertility issues. Many don’t admit or seek help to help resolve their fertility issues, even though we have great medical and technological advances to help couples conceive. Many still consider infertility a stigma more so than a medical issue.

As a result, in June of 2008, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) declared that “infertility is a disease,” marking the first time such a declaration is made by a medical society. This medical declaration may now push insurance companies to provide coverage for those who need it. Furthermore, by calling infertility a disease, we hope that public opinion will change for the better, so that people realize that having this condition maybe no different than having any other condition that may be temporary and easily fixed, such as a “broken bone.”

In addition, a new set of criteria was added to infertility, so that now it is no longer a term only for used for those who have tried to conceive for twelve or more months, but also those who are older than thirty-five years old and who have tried for six months or more without success. Furthermore, the ASRM has stated that “earlier evaluation and treatment may be justified based on medical history and physical findings.” Examples of this are those who aren’t ovulating and who require immediate diagnosis and treatment to be able to get pregnant.

Recurrent miscarriages were also classified “as a disease” by the committee, and the same applies to what I stated above. Those who have undergone two or more miscarriages have by definition this diagnosis, with each loss meriting careful review. “After three or more losses, a thorough evaluation is warranted.” The ASRM committee did state that a pregnancy in this case is that of at least a clinical pregnancy, and/or one that was able to provide a specimen.

These appear to be steps in the right direction that will allow appropriate changes from all facets of society (medical, insurance, overall public perception). This acknowledgement of infertility we hope will provide prompt treatment to those who need it, while making this journey a lot easier for everyone involved so that you can achieve your dreams of having a family.

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