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Infertility Affects One in Six Canadians. I Am One of Them.

Cheryl Dowling

CEO & Founder, The IVF Warrior

According to a recent World Health Organization report, an estimated 17.5 percent of the adult population struggles with infertility.

Infertility affects one in six Canadians. I am one of them.

At the age of 23, I was referred to a fertility clinic. After numerous tests and procedures, I was informed that my only option was in vitro fertilization (IVF). What proceeded over the coming years were multiple surgeries, IVF cycles, and frozen embryo cycles. Infertility and IVF were the most confusing, exhausting, and overwhelming experiences. I often felt lost and alone, as if those around me didn’t understand the pain and heartache I was going through. At the time, there was little support, understanding, and information available for fertility patients.

I never imagined infertility would be a part of my story until it happened to me.

I was going through my fifth IVF cycle and second pregnancy loss when I launched The IVF Warrior, a community-driven health platform on a mission to change the conversation surrounding infertility. I recognized then that there were so many other people struggling who felt like me and needed a safe place to turn. I wanted to provide this much-needed space to support, educate, and empower people on their journey.

Everyone knows someone who is facing infertility.

According to a recent World Health Organization report, an estimated 17.5 percent of the adult population struggles with infertility — roughly one in six worldwide. 1 Previously, this figure was one in eight. Fertility is a growing global health problem, demonstrating the urgent need to increase access to affordable fertility care, support, and awareness for those in need.

Infertility is a medical disease, affecting both men and women equally.

It is proven that infertility affects men and women equally, and that it can affect an individual or a couple in various ways, from their mental health, relationships, career, and/or finances. Financially speaking, in Ontario, 45% of IVF cycles are privately funded, with a cost averaging from $6,000 – $11,000 for an IVF cycle, depending on the clinic. 2  Though infertility is a medical disease, it is one of the few diseases not covered by health insurance. Hence, putting the financial burden on those struggling.

Mental health is an important part of fertility care.

Mentally, studies have shown a high correlation of fertility patients experiencing mental health issues including PTSD, trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and postpartum depression and anxiety. 3 Depression levels in patients with infertility have been compared with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer. 4   As a mental health professional, patient advocate, and former fertility patient, I can attest that infertility is not simply a physical disease, it is a disease that can affect a patient entirely. It’s crucial that more education and awareness are brought to light because of this.

We must do better to support people struggling with infertility.

People struggling with infertility do not need unsolicited advice or judgement, they need more support, empathy, and understanding. The IVF Warrior is on a mission to change the conversation surrounding fertility health and wellness, and to offer patients the support they deserve.

To learn more about The IVF Warrior, visit theivfwarrior.ca or find us on social media @the.ivf.warrior 

1. World Health Organization: WHO. (2023, April 4). 1 in 6 people globally affected by infertility: WHO. WHO. Retrieved May 31, 2023, from https://www.who.int/news/item/04-04-2023-1-in-6-people-globally-affected-by-infertility
2. The Life-Changing Costs of Fertility Treatments.” The IVF Warrior, 31 Mar. 2023, https://www.theivfwarrior.ca/blog/the-life-changing-costs-of-fertility-treatments
3. Klemetti, R., Raitanen, J., Sihvo, S., Saarni, S. I., & Koponen, P. (2010). Infertility, mental disorders and well-being – a nationwide survey. Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 89(5), 677–682. https://doi.org/10.3109/00016341003623746
4. The psychological impact of infertility: a comparison with patients with other medical conditions. (1993). PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8142988/

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