Seed to Soul

The Alarming Rise in Infertility

Let’s Understand the Statistics and How to Seek Support

Parenthood is a cherished dream for many couples around the world. However, recent statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) paint a concerning picture of the increasing prevalence of infertility. According to the WHO, the number of infertile couples has risen from 1 in 8 to a staggering 1 in 6 couples. That equates to 17.5% of the adult population. This means you likely know someone or more likely a few people who are suffering from the pain of infertility and they could be sitting right next to you in the office and saying absolutely nothing.

In this blog post, we explore this disheartening trend, shed light on possible factors contributing to infertility, and emphasize the importance of seeking support from compassionate professionals who can provide guidance and hope.

Unraveling the statistics

The shift in infertility rates from 1 in 8 to 1 in 6 couples demands attention and reflection. While the numbers themselves are distressing, it is crucial to understand the factors underlying this increase. Several variables contribute to infertility, including age, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, underlying health conditions and socio-cultural aspects. By acknowledging the statistics, we can foster a greater understanding of the challenges faced by couples on their journey to parenthood.

I have to say anecdotally I have noticed the rise in couples struggling to conceive, especially when I was still in the trenches in the law firms and corporate world. Whether it is that people are becoming slightly more open about this still-taboo topic and so we can see who is on a journey, or if it is just that as I have become older (see the next section) and am inching towards my 40s that more people are naturally finding it more difficult to conceive.

The influence of age

I am sure you are thinking, not this again? Why are we always talking about age and infertility? Well one of the primary factors impacting infertility rates is the delay in childbearing. With societal changes and career aspirations, many couples are opting to start families later in life. Fundamentally, people are neither meeting their prospective partners as early in life as before and even if they do, they are opting not to start a family right away but waiting to build that economic and career base before embarking on family creation.

Unfortunately, male and female fertility declines with age, and particularly with women, statistically speaking, time is not on their side. The chances of conceiving without assistance do diminish significantly in your late 30s and early 40s and so being proactive about this very real possibility is key. We need conversations to discuss the realties of the so-called “fertility cliff” which drops off after 35 and take steps perhaps to preserve our fertility when we are younger, through testing our fertility and then egg freezing, for example. Hopefully you never need those eggs that you froze, but if you do end up needing them, it’s better to have eggs from when you were 30 vs. 38.

Lifestyle and environmental factors

Modern lifestyles can also play a role in rising infertility rates. Factors such as stress, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle (sitting at a desk all day, anyone?) and regular exposure to environmental toxins can all impact reproductive health. It is essential to adopt a holistic approach to fertility by prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, managing stress and reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and pollutants. This is one of those areas where I have seen people make themselves crazy, trying to avoid every possible plastic and fragrance in their area and then when they do become exposed to something, however, minor, it sends them into a tailspin about whether they have “ruined their chances” in a cycle. The important thing to remember is to try to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and swap out what you can in your personal and domestic products, but don’t make yourself more stressed out by trying to contain or control everything in this arena because a lot of it is out of your control. I promise a much longer blog post on chemical exposure in the future!

So what can we do if infertility really is so frighteningly widespread?

Acknowledge the toll of infertility

Infertility can take a tremendous emotional toll on individuals and couples. The disappointment, grief and feelings of inadequacy can be overwhelming. It is crucial to acknowledge and address the psychological impact of infertility, to ensure that you receive the necessary support and guidance to navigate this emotionally charged journey. This may mean that talking to the people who have known you the longest may not be the right people to discuss this with, because not only do they not comprehend what you are experiencing, but they continually say the wrong things and it exacerbates the hurt. I think a theme is emerging here – I will definitely do a post in the future on navigating who to tell and what to tell them!

Seeking support and professional guidance

In the face of rising infertility rates, seeking support becomes paramount, and the right kind of support at that. Infertility is a complex issue and that requires a comprehensive approach. Professional fertility specialists and fertility doulas can work hand in hand to provide the medical assistance required and the compassionate, empathetic support network those traveling on a fertility journey so desperately need. Choosing the right people in both instances will make a world of difference to how your journey unfolds.

Embrace holistic support

Holistic support plays a crucial role in the journey towards parenthood. It is important to recognize that fertility treatment is more likely to be successful if you are taking care of diet, exercise, supplementation, alternative therapies, like acupuncture, and reduction of stress. This means you are looking at yourself holistically and not just expecting medicine to overcompensate for other areas that maybe haven’t been addressed. A fertility doula can really offer that personalized guidance and emotional support as you navigate ways to optimize your fertility.

By understanding contributing factors to the rise in infertility rates, you can seek ways to adapt your lifestyle and embark on your fertility journey with renewed hope and determination. Let’s not underestimate the power of compassion, knowledge and the all-important support network to create that empathetic and inclusive space for individuals and couples on their path to parenthood.

I'm Zillah—

The fertility expert behind the blog.

My own personal journey through infertility and loss has fueled my passion to help others navigate their fertility challenges. Now, I'm here to share my knowledge, provide guidance, and offer a compassionate space for you to find strength, hope, and the support you need on your own fertility journey.

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