Medical groups define infertility as the inability of conceive within one year of regular unprotected intercourse (four to five times a week). The two types of infertility are primary infertility when a person has never been able to conceive and secondary infertility when there has been a previous pregnancy but subsequent attempts have failed.

The Statistics of Infertility

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of every four couples in the developing countries is said to be affected by infertility. In a global survey done by WHO and PLOS Medicine, the researchers documented changes to the infertility rate between 1990 and 2010. The study found that primary infertility affects women in the range of 1.6%-2.7%, whereas, secondary infertility affects them in the range of 2.6%-27.1%.

Geographically, the primary infertility rates in developing nations ranged between 1.0%-2.5% and the secondary infertility rates were in the range of 7.2%-18.0%. The countries that recorded the lowest levels of primary infertility were Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Poland, Kenya and South Korea all falling within the range of 0.8%-1.0%. The countries that recorded the lowest levels of secondary infertility were Rwanda, Jordan, Peru, United States of America, Bolivia, Egypt, Tunisia and Vietnam with 6% or less.

Globally, in numbers, about 19.2 million couples suffered from primary infertility and 29.3 million from secondary infertility (excluding China for its one-child policy)as of 2010.With the above statistics it is quite clear that the regions where this is more prevalent are the developing nations of the world. On the other hand, the developed countries recorded a decline in the infertility levels from 4.2 million in 1990 to 3.6 million in 2010.

The Impact of Infertility.

According to one study conducted by Harvard among 200 couples,about half of the women and 15% of men attributed infertility as the most upsetting experience. Infertility in women and infertility in men have different emotional impacts on both. However the most common emotional impacts affecting both genders range from shock, anger, depression, grief, frustration and anxiety. Other repercussions include a sense of losing control, low self-esteem, self-confidence issues, financial stress, marital strain and sexual and family pressure.

With the most affected regions being the developing countries, where family bonds and expectations are stronger, the social stigma attached with the diagnosis of female infertility is high. This often affects women and leads to declining job performance, marital discords, abandonment, loss of social status, social alienation by community ostracism and sometimes even physical violence.

Although women are known to be more emotionally affected by infertility, men too suffer in cases where they are diagnosed as infertile. Men start developing issues with potency, questioning their masculinity and sexual adequacy. These psychological impacts can leave a long term scar on men and contribute towards their deteriorating lifestyle and self-confidence.

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