UP TO 40% OF INFERTILE COUPLES IN EUROPE AFFECTED BY MALE INFERTILITY – IT’S TIME TO CHALLENGE THE ODDS!
The first week of November is the European Fertility Week – and this year, for the first time ever, it will be shedding light on male infertility issues and men’s health.
BRUSSELS, 25 October 2021 – The European Fertility Week has been helping to raise awareness of fertility issues and advocate for equitable access to fertility care across Europe since 2016. This year, to shed light on the issue of male (in)fertility and the stigma associated with it, Fertility Europe, a Pan-European organisation representing patients’ associations in the field of (in)fertility, together with its members and partners, are launching a European-wide campaign to help people challenge the (in)fertility odds.
In collaboration with the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), Male Reproductive Health Initiative (MRHI), European Academy of Andrology and European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF), the “Male (in)fertility. Challenge the Odds.” campaign will be rolled out across European countries to raise awareness of lifestyle factors affecting fertility and provide more information on support and treatment options available in different countries.
As part of the campaign, in a virtual event, European public health stakeholders will address current issues in fertility screening and treatment approaches, gaps in educational and policy frameworks, and discuss potential solutions to ensure equitable access to fertility care for everyone across Europe. The event will take place on November 3rd (13:00-15:00 CET) with contributions from Members of the European Parliament Predrag Fred Matić (Croatia, S&D), Francis Fitzgerald (Ireland, EPP) and Bartosz Arłukowicz (Poland, EPP), prominent academics and representatives of European and national medical societies and patient organisations in the sphere of sexual and reproductive health, as well as andrology experts and men’s health advocates.
“More than 25 million citizens in the European Union are affected by infertility today, with male factor infertility occurring in approximately 40% of the cases. However, the topic of male infertility is a big taboo and men are often left outside the discussion about their own sexual and reproductive health” – explains Satu Rautakallio-Hokkanen, Fertility Europe’s Executive Committee Chair. – “To reduce stigma and normalise the discussion around male fertility and sexual health, more awareness and education on male and female sexual and reproductive health is needed” – she adds.
Dr Carlos Calhaz-Jorge, Chair of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), also notes that “1 in 6 couples worldwide is affected by infertility. The question of treatment availability and equal access to it is crucial as many couples experience considerable financial difficulties and are sometimes unable to complete the treatment due to the very high costs of medication. Moreover, the mental burden of waiting times of up to 18 months for the most sophisticated treatments is also persistent.”
Member of the European Parliament Predrag Fred Matić (Croatia, S&D) stresses that “access to fertility treatments is a sexual and reproductive right. The ‘Report on the Situation of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights’ in the EU, adopted by the European Parliament in June this year, calls on the Member States to ensure that all persons of reproductive age have access to fertility treatments. It also stresses the importance of closely examining fertility, the prevalence of infertility and subfertility in the EU as a public health issue.”
Research shows that as many as one in six couples worldwide are affected by infertility at some time in their reproductive lives[i], with some reports warning that by 2040, all couples will need some form of medical help to conceive[ii]. We can all act now to challenge these odds – by leading a healthier lifestyle and proactively taking care of our sexual and reproductive health.
[i] ESHRE – European Policy Audit on Fertility: report
[ii] The Guardian, “Shanna Swan: ‘Most couples may have to use assisted reproduction by 2045’