Deep Bench: Tackling the barriers and stigmas of infertility

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 5:25 PM CDT
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Many people view the picture-perfect life as going to school, getting a good job, getting married and starting a family. But for many couples, it's the starting a family part that's a struggle.

In fact, about 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Survey of Family Growth. That equates to 15% of couples worldwide or 48.5 million.

The biggest age group impacted is those 19 - 40 years old.

Infertility means not being able to become pregnant after a year of trying or becoming pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. It's an important time to have conversation about this very common issue for many couples, to break barriers and to reduce the stigma.

On Thursday, Dr. Kimberly Couri, an infertility specialist from Couri & Smyth Health for Life Medical Center out of Weston.

She said infertility is often viewed as a women's issue, but it's not.

"It really is a couples issue. There is contribution from both sides. Forty percent of the time it's the woman, 10% of the time it's the man, and 40% of the time it's both together," Dr. Couri explained.

She said infertility is usually caused by more than one thing, and you need to tackle it all, from an infection to hormonal imbalance.

"Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, that's the biggest cause of infertility in our country and women who have low-grade infections," Dr. Couri added. "And now we're seeing secondary infertility where a couple can have one child, but when they try to have their second or third, they find difficulty."

She said there is often a stigma surrounding infertility, which can come with a wide range of emotions for couples who are struggling to conceive.

"They can often feel like they're a failure, because it's something we think happens naturally, and everyone should be able to do it," she said. "And when it doesn't happen like you plan, it makes you feel really embarrassed and it's difficult to talk about."

Dr. Couri wants women and couples to talk about infertility, because they're not alone.

"There is hope and that is the biggest message I would like to say," she said.

Couri & Smyth takes a holistic approach to infertility and have helped couples be able to conceive after several years of trying to have a baby.

They look at the underlying causes and lifestyle changes that are necessary, one of the bigger ones being stress.