Fertility in women has been another silly taboo topic. There are many myths and much is blamed on fertility. Time to take a new look.

Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

Inequality in the healthcare system between men and women is nothing new. Women know the challenges of getting a doctor to listen, of being misdiagnosed and too often, just not getting diagnosed and giving up. Fertility is one of these issues.

A recent study by a UK company, Fertility Family, found that in the UK, in a study of 133 women, 1 in 5 (just over 21%) who had sought medical guidance on fertility were prescribed medication which was later found to be incassurate. When it came to men? That fell to under 7%. The overall study shows that 82% of women left their appointment with the issue going unresolved. It’s important to note this was a self-reporting study, by a company and not aligned with government statistics in the UK.

Women have often reported being told to “just relax and it will work itself out” or that they should take better care of their mental health and diet. In many Western societies, fertility remains a taboo topic and is especially never discussed in the workplace for fears, rightly so, of losing out on career advancement and other work related opportunities.

For women, the conversation about fertility and having children starts in their twenties. And it builds into their thirties when it seems to follow them everywhere. It’s like a background music track that never stops. In the meantime, men are jibed about never getting “tied down” and bounce around with little concern. Men need to become part of the conversation and the double standards need to stop. It’s time to have a bigger conversation about fertility. Especially as the birth rate in developed countries is falling significantly.

COVID-19 and the pandemic, along with other issues however, is showing that science is starting to do more research in fertility issues and some advances are being made. This is encouraging and needs to continue.

Some new research has even shown that when women are in the ovulation phase of the reproductive cycle, women have shown demonstrable increases in creative thinking! The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggest this may in part be a sexually selected trait signalling women’s reproductive fitness.

Another recent study in Europe and especially in Germany, has shown that most women who are born with heart defects can give birth with relatively few or minimal problems when well supported with medical experts. The German study of over 7,000 women showed that because of advances in heart surgery and care, it has enabled more women to carry safely to term.

The most important finding from our study is that many women born with a congenital heart defect are able to get through pregnancy and give birth safely. This is important because only a few decades ago many women would not even have reached adult age themselves. It is very encouraging to see that such a large number of mothers with a congenital heart defect can give birth to healthy children.”

Dr Astrid Lammers, Study First Author and a Consultant in Paediatric Cardiology,  Department for adults with CHD, University Hospital Münster

Un the United States, the NIH (National Institute of Health) in 2019 they updated their women’s health research budgets to include research that is relevant to women only, where before it had included makes. And critical changes are coming from other areas, mostly due to pressure from women and physicians on the front-line of fertility and reproductive health. Now, technology startups are getting into the game, including AbbVie and Eli Lilly, both of whom are increasing their R&D funds into women’s reproductive health, not mens.

And we’re seeing an increase in private equity funding for the use of technology for women’s reproductive health. NextGen Jane recently raised $9 Million in April 2021 for its “smart tampon” and DotLab a non-invasive test for endometriosis raised $10 Million, and the endo research study app Phendo is also raising privately. This signals a great demand. 

Most of these technology advancements will come from the USa and UK and not Canada. While we have good healthcare, unfortunately, Canada is what’s called a monopsomy, or single-buyer system, so there’s little incentive for tech startups here to invest in any type of medical advancements. It’s why we see most new medical technology breakthroughs come from outside of Canada.

In Canada, we aren’t seeing a lot of deep research into women’s reproductive health overall and it may be some time until we do. So for now, it will be countries like Germany, the United States, Sweden and Norway where more critical research will be done.

Discover More: Check out this helpful article on staying fit during pregnancy.

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