Every Sixth Person is Affected by Infertility, Says a WHO Report

The latest findings suggest that the prevalence of infertility varies only a little among areas. The rates for high, middle, and low-income countries are comparable, demonstrating that this is a huge worldwide health concern. In high-income countries, the lifetime prevalence was 17.8%, while in low- and middle-income countries, it was 16.5%.

“The report reveals an important truth: infertility does not discriminate,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General at World Health Organization (WHO). “The sheer proportion of people affected shows the need to widen access to fertility care and ensure this issue is no longer sidelined in health research and policy so that safe, effective, and affordable ways to attain parenthood are available for those who seek it.”

What is Infertility?

Infertility is a condition of the male or female reproductive system characterized by the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse. It can result in substantial anguish, stigma, and financial difficulties, negatively impacting people’s mental and psychosocial well-being.


Despite the severity of the problem, options for infertility prevention, diagnosis, and treatment—including assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) – remain underfunded and out of reach for many due to high prices, social stigma, and limited availability.

Fertility Treatments

In most countries, fertility treatments are currently paid for out of pocket, which can result in severe financial costs. When compared to people in wealthier nations, people in the poorest countries spend a larger proportion of their income on fertility care.

High expenses usually hinder people from receiving infertility treatments or, on the other hand, can throw them into poverty due to seeking therapy.

“Millions of people face catastrophic healthcare costs after seeking infertility treatment, making this a major equity issue and, all too often, a medical poverty trap for those affected,” said Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, including the United Nations Special Programme of Research, Development, and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP). “Better policies and public financing can significantly improve access to treatment and protect poorer households from falling into poverty as a result.”

While the new analysis provides compelling evidence of the global incidence of infertility, it also underscores a chronic shortage of data in many nations and regions. It proposes more national data on infertility disaggregated by age and reason to aid in quantifying infertility and determining who needs fertility care and how risks might be mitigated.


  1. 1 in 6 people globally affected by infertility: WHO – (https:www.who.int/news/item/04-04-2023-1-in-6-people-globally-affected-by-infertility)

Source: Medindia

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