Infertility is a common problem for both men and women. About 9% of men and 11% of women of childbearing age in the United States have had fertility problems. Infertility is equally distributed, with a third of men and a third of women.
Conception is a complicated process and many factors can influence the outcome, including age, medical conditions and hormones. Fortunately, medical and diagnostic advances in infertility testing and treatment are opening up more opportunities for physicians working with patients experiencing fertility problems to support family building.
The magnitude and impact of infertility
Estimates suggest that worldwide, between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals of childbearing age are living with infertility. Infertility affects 6.7 million women in the US. Infertility not only affects the patients who experience it, but their families and communities are also affected by the added stress and hardship it brings. Several factors affect fertility and 25% of infertile couples have more than one factor contributing to their infertility. These factors create additional complications for caregivers who assist patients in their journey to parenthood.
While 85-90 percent of infertility cases can be treated with conventional medical therapies such as medication or surgery, the path to getting a treatment plan is not that simple. Many factors contribute to differences in effective fertility treatments. There is limited access to IVF and fertility testing services in the US, with only 24 percent of assisted reproductive technology needs.
While assisted reproductive technology has made great strides, the cost of care remains one of the biggest barriers to accessing fertility care. More often than not, fertility services are not covered by public or private insurers, and most patients pay out of pocket for fertility treatments. The average cost of one cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF), the most common type of assisted reproductive technology, is currently about $12,000. LGBTQ patients face a greater number of barriers to fertility care because they do not meet the definitions of “infertility” that would require them for services covered by insurance.
To bridge the gap and create better access to fertility care, some CLIA-FDA accredited labs deliver a range of fertility and IVF tests directly to the homes of patients who meet them where they are, enabling them to take control about their own care. Time is an important factor in fertility care, so access to reliable, accurate and timely test results from a diagnostic partner is imperative for patients.
Infertility can have a ripple effect that includes mental health and financial status. One study found that 25-60% of infertile couples had psychiatric problems. Typically, over time, women felt more dissatisfied with infertility than men and were also more likely to develop anxiety and depression from infertility.
The journey to conception for individuals and couples with infertility is typically long and tortuous, with several unknowns – and no clear path is defined because every journey is different. The ability of healthcare providers to leverage accurate, advanced and timely diagnostic testing for infertility patients is a critical part of the patient journey.
Managing the impact of infertility with testing
Fertility testing can happen at any stage in a patient’s journey. Some patients are curious about their chances of conceiving in the future, while others use fertility tests to detect problems after trying to conceive for months or years. There is a plethora of tests available to health care providers that can help them figure out how to treat infertility problems. Fertility clinics and other health care providers can perform a variety of tests to assess a woman’s reproductive health and fertility potential — from pelvic ultrasound to standard ovulation.
One such test, the anti-Müller hormone (AMH) test, is arousing interest and gaining traction among medical professionals.
For women, regular AMH level testing can provide useful information about a woman’s ability to produce viable eggs for fertilization. An AMH test checks the health and amount of a woman’s ovarian reserve, which is helpful for a woman’s fertility journey. A survey of 796 infertility clinics worldwide, accounting for nearly 600,000 IVF cycles, found that 60% said they tested AMH first.
these tests can provide timely and accurate results for women who want to understand their AMH levels while helping health care providers map out the best way forward.
For men, semen analysis is a convenient and easy way to have a more informed conversation between patient and doctor. Sperm analysis makes it possible to understand the shape, number, size and overall composition of a man’s sperm, which is an important factor in determining fertility potential.
More modern testing options, such as at-home sperm testing, can create a more accessible and comfortable environment for men to gather important information for their fertility journey. A semen analysis test at home helps men determine if they are medically fit for reproduction based on the number and quality of their sperm.
Access partners to support infertility testing
The US lab testing market is approaching $80 billion. Specific to fertility treatments, the global fertility market is projected to grow from $14.27 billion in 2020 to $21.7 billion by 2025. Falling fertility rates around the world will continue to fuel growth in the infertility space, driving strong demand and continued advancement in fertility tests. an important part. Awareness and access to partners for fertility testing can reduce the complexity and distress that infertility can bring to individuals and couples and serve as a helpful resource for caregivers navigating the fertility journey with the patient(s). It is important for healthcare providers to find a testing partner who: supplies reliable, accurate and timely test results, while simultaneously serving as a collaborator during the complicated and unique fertility journey.