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Infertility is More Common Than You Think



Bringing home a bundle of joy can be a lot harder than people think for many couples or individuals trying to become pregnant. According to the National Women’s Health Resource Center, a couple ages 29–33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20–25% chance of conceiving in any given month. Of course, those chances decrease with age. While approximately 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance within six months of trying, one in eight couples are struggling with infertility issues in the US, and at least 50 million more couples worldwide struggle every year.¹


The good news is that 85–90% of infertility cases can be treated by conventional therapies ranging from timed intercourse to surgery to address blocked fallopian tubes, assisted reproductive technology, medication, or solutions related to male infertility this is responsible for ⅓ of infertility cases.² There is a common misconception that treatment is related to IVF, but fewer than 3% of cases need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF),³ which alone lead to more than 50,000 babies born every year in the US.


And women are taking advantage: approximately 44% of women with infertility have sought medical assistance.⁴ Even more exciting is the wave of innovation hitting the fertility market that may make accessing treatment easier than ever. The Global Fertility Services market size is expected to reach $36 billion with a compounded annual growth rate of 8.5% by 2023.⁵ Hundreds of startups are rising to the challenge to help both men and women conceive in an easier, less expensive, and minimally invasive way where appropriate. Celmatix is using big data to improve assisted reproductive technology, Mira, Ovusense, Tempdrop help detect fertile windows, and a number of at-home tests available to understand a fertility profile, from at-home sperm testing kits for male fertility to ovarian reserve and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) tests to assess one potential link to female infertility.


Where more advanced treatment is needed, many employers are beginning to provide special fertility benefits, from helping subsidize the cost of ART like IVF to making sure their insurance policy includes fertility coverage. Together, alongside technological advances to make interventions more effective, it more feasible than ever for women to have children at all ages before menopause.


But that doesn’t mean getting pregnant with help is a walk in the park, and learning that whether a woman or her partner has a challenge conceiving can take a huge emotional, physical, and financial toll. A recent study found that more than 50% of women experiencing infertility said it has been the most stressful experience of their life, and 18% of couples reported that infertility has had a negative impact on their marriage.⁶ We don’t find that surprising: there are deep cultural expectations around having children and personal desire to start families.


Both men and women report feelings of stress, anger, guilt, depression, grief, anxiety, withdrawal, decreased self-esteem, loss of relationships, and decreased financial security (seeking treatment).⁷ Researcher Megan Edwards Collins says “this includes questioning one’s worthiness as a potential parent and as a spouse, and experiencing a sense of loss of control over one’s life.”⁸ A participant in that study shared:


“I think so much of who we are identified as the woman aspect is our ability to have children. So, when not having that ability or not being able to, you feel like you are broken. It is supposed to be something that everyone can do. Your body is made for it and you can’t do it. I think that is where a lot of the struggle or difficulty comes from. It’s hard to connect with other people as well when you are thinking about it day to day, every day of your life”.

For women who do seek treatment, finding the right option and getting educated is a daunting task. It can be difficult to know where to even start, and to ensure that the next steps are made through an informed process, giving as much agency as possible to the individual. Where treatments are chosen, they can be time consuming, expensive, and unpredictable. And the more physically and emotionally demanding and intrusive a patients’ medical treatments become, the higher the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.⁹ It can make balancing work and day to day life extremely challenging, and many women find they cut out time for leisure, hobbies and self-care. And of course, some women may choose not to pursue treatment, which has its own social and emotional challenges.


While we find the increasing normalization of conversation around fertility, at both work and at home, extremely encouraging to help remove stigma and shame, there is still much work to do. We all need to recognize than when a man or woman struggles with infertility, it impacts every aspect of life, and we all have a job in supporting individuals and couples in their journey. Whether it’s making inclusive workplaces, lending a non-judgemental ear to listen to a friend or colleague, or raising sensitive conversation topics that might not allude to children, we can all play our part.


Here at Hela Health, we take supporting women experiencing infertility an extremely serious part of our mission. We are helping women throughout their journeys first get access to the right information, education, and resources to make better decisions for their care. We recognize that alongside these experiences, connecting to other women also experiencing infertility might be transformative, healing, and validating to know we are not alone. And understanding what technologies might be available to help us understand our fertility profile or even conceive, often with exclusive discounts for Hela Health members, may be a good first line option or supportive to conventional treatments to make the experience smoother.


If you’re ready to see the Hela Difference, sign up at helahealth.io for exclusive access and talk to your employers and health plans about a plan for women in your workplace.



[1] https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/

[2] https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/

[3] https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/

[4] https://resolve.org/infertility-101/what-is-infertility/fast-facts/

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jilliancanning/2019/09/05/the-rise-of-startups-innovating-in-the-fertility-space/#74ccca124e66

[6] Klock SC. Psychological issues related to infertility [Internet]. UK: Global Library of Women’s Medicine; 2011. Available from: http://www.glowm.com/secion_view/heading/Psychological%20Issues%20Related%20to%20Infertility/item/412. [Google Scholar]

[7] Collins ME. The Impact of Infertility on Daily Occupations and Roles. J Reprod Infertil. 2019;20(1):24–34.

[8] Collins ME. The Impact of Infertility on Daily Occupations and Roles. J Reprod Infertil. 2019;20(1):24–34.

[9] http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/content/77/6/427.full

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