Infertility is an intensely personal experience but the more I’ve learned about its reach the more surprised I am by how little mainstream visibility the condition actually receives. There are a host of health issues that get significantly more air time relative to the number of people affected.
To underscore this point (and this is not in any way meant to diminish the impact or importance of other disease states or health concerns), consider that in the U.S. it’s reported 700,000 people experience a stroke each year. When it comes to people in the U.S. suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, the latest estimates are 4.5 million. By comparison, let’s see how well you do on this Infertility quiz (answers below):
1) The number of women (of childbearing age 15-44) in the United States who are fighting Infertility is estimated at 7.3 million. That’s the same number as:
a) the population of Israel
b) the population of Virginia
c) the population of the nine-county San Francisco Bay area
d) all of the above
2) How many people around the globe of child-bearing age does the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate are struggling with Infertility?
a) 15-17 million
b) 20-40 million
c) 30-50 million
d) 50-80 million
3) As of 2006, how large was the U.S. ‘fertility’ industry?
a) $500M a year
b) $1B a year
c) $2B a year
d) $3B a year
Now let’s see how you did. The answers are….
1 – d (all of the above) 2 – d (50-80 million); 3 – d ($3B a year).
The mind boggles when you consider that in the U.S. alone infertility touches the equivalent of all the citizens of Virginia or Israel or the residents of the nine county San Francisco Bay area. And the 50-80 million people worldwide? To put that in some perspective, consider that Italy has just over 59 million citizens and Germany has 82 million.
And while collectively these are some very big numbers, we are most familiar and touched by infertility when we experience it firsthand or know someone who receives the daunting diagnosis. That gets me to my last question, how many people in your day-to-day life (not including your blogroll) do you know who have been affected by infertility?