Manage episode 371981401 series 3399333
Approximately one in every six people experience infertility in their lifetime. In this episode of The Why Wait Agenda podcast we discuss the main causes of infertility – a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse – with Karin Hammarberg, an Australian fertility expert and Senior Research Fellow at Monash University.
«Infertility, no matter if primary or secondary, is pretty devastating» says Hammarberg, a registered nurse with twenty years of experience as clinical co-ordinator of in vitro fertilisation programs: «Sometimes people with secondary infertility feel guilty about wanting to have another child, when people might tell them "well, you're lucky, you've got one child – or two children – already". But if you actually had a real hope of having two or three children and you only have one, the grief you feel is pretty profound, and I'm not so sure it's even helpful to try and compare the two».
As Hammerberg stated in an article about late pregnancy storylines in tv dramas, previously featured in the Why Wait Agenda – "Mothers over 40: it seems easy enough on TV, but what about real life?" – the chance of pregnancy is lower for women in their late thirties and forties. «Infertility has a range of causes, but one cause often under-reported is what we call age-related infertility» stresses Hammarberg: «It's becoming a more and more common cause, unfortunately».
Hammerberg doesn't think that people know enough about infertility – nor about fertility, for that matter. That's why her «strong passion in life» is to work on «what people can do to actually promote and protect their own fertility, and to make sure they give themselves the best chance of conceiving without having infertility treatments». And that's precisely what she's doing by collaborating with the website Yourfertility.org.au, a national public education program managed by the Fertility Coalition and funded by the Australian Government's Department of Health and the Victorian Government's Department of Health.
«Often infertility is presumed to be a women's problem, but in fact one in three cases of infertility is because of a male factor» points out Hammarberg, who's also Deputy chair of the International Reproductive Health Education Collaboration and a member of the scientific committee of the European Fertility Society: «I hope that with more and more advocacy and information and awareness raising, we can reach a point where everybody understands that it's no one's fault. It's just sometimes biology, sometimes a disease, but it's not a personal responsibility – and no one should be blamed or shamed» fo it.