10. Reduce infertility prevalence by prevention and education: Some causes of infertility can be prevented. General education and healthcare prevention strategies can substantially reduce the prevalence and burden of infertility, which affects approximately 80 million women worldwide.
Prevention of infertility is essential to reduce the prevalence of infertility. Successful strategies require recognition of the different causes in urban and rural areas in different parts of the world. This variability requires different actions from one setting to another.
Education at all levels and at every opportunity is the first step in prevention. Education is needed for women to create behavior change, for providers to create practice change, and for policy makers to create beneficial health and social policy.
In the developing world, infertility is commonly secondary to puerperal infection, STIs or other disease. Education, programmes and medical treatment to prevent these diseases are needed.
In developed countries, infertility is commonly associated with delayed childbearing. Education about reproductive health aging and better social support systems are needed to deal with these causes of infertility.
Provision of prevention services, such as screening for STIs, antenatal programmes and healthy motherhood programmes, should be a core component in health policy in all countries.
Providers and other professionals in fertility/infertility programmes should enable and support implementation of education programmes for the public, for providers and for policy makers. They can do this by making themselves aware of available resources. These include personnel, organizations, programmes and financial resources. Where appropriate, simple targets and indicators should be used to maintain clarity and focus so that progress can be measured.
Throughout the world, the major barrier to infertility care is cost. This is likely the most important barrier limiting access to safe and effective fertility treatment globally. The burden of infertility can only be reduced by increased social acceptance of the need to support infertility treatment financially either through government or private health insurance.
The second major barrier to access to infertility diagnosis and treatment is ignorance in the general population about infertility, and the resultant lack of financial and societal support. This causes many infertile people to suffer in emotional isolation without access to familial or societal understanding or support.
It is imperative, therefore, to provide public education and other programmes that can help society understand infertility better. This requires that clear, accessible and consistent information about infertility be communicated to the media through professional groups and government. This is necessary to generate more support for the many actions that can help reduce the global burden of infertility.