Study finds stigma still attached to infertility

Most women believe Irish people are least inclined to talk about fertility issues, with almost half believing there is a stigma attached to infertility.

Six in 10 women feel fertility problems are least likely to be mentioned — there is more reluctance to talk about such issues than sexually transmitted diseases and mental ill health.

Research by VHI into fertility awareness found that nearly half (47%) of the women surveyed feel there is a stigma attached to infertility to Ireland.

Almost one in four (23%) women feel the stigma is due to a lack of open discussion about fertility issues.

One in five believes there is a stereotype that women should have children. One in 10 feels too embarrassed to admit there is a problem.

However, one in six couples will have fertility issues when they start trying for a family, and both men and women are equally likely to experience them.

Where couples have fertility issues, around one third relate to the man and one third to the woman, with the remainder due to problems with both partners or for unexplained causes.

The research was published yesterday to coincide with VHI’s campaign, Let’s Talk About Fertility, which includes a fertility quiz.

Study finds stigma still attached to infertility

Of those surveyed, 28% intend starting a family when they are aged between 31 and 35, with one in four planning to start trying when aged between 26 and 30.

Almost half of those surveyed (45%) hope to have two children, 27% want to have three, with just 6% wanting four.

Over half (55%) hope they will not have any problems starting a family, but more than one in five (22%) worry there may be difficulties.

About 41% of men found it difficult to discuss fertility issues with family or relatives, compared to 29% of women and 44% of men were not happy to discuss the issue with friends, compared to just 16% of women.

It emerged that one in 12 adults aged 25 to 50 had fertility treatment and two in three knew someone who had.

A higher number of women (69%), compared to men (55%) knew someone who had undergone treatment.

VHI medical director, Dr Bernadette Carr, said the research showed that discussion of fertility issues was still taboo in Ireland and that needed to change.

The fertility quiz points out it is commonly believed that women are the only ones who have to face the biological clock but men’s fertility starts to decline in their 40s too.

And, while it is possible to conceive while over or underweight, it is significantly more challenging, so couples wanting to start a family should do their best to maintain a healthy weight.

The quiz also points out that a healthy woman aged 25 only has a 16% chance of becoming pregnant every month, but most people believed it was much higher.

It takes 72 days for a man’s sperm to completely regenerate but just 8% of individuals aged 25 to 50 knew that.

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