Infertility Awareness Week: Shedding light on a misunderstood subject

Infertility impacts one in six Canadians of reproductive age. As doctors, we have the opportunity to raise awareness, promote education, and reduce the stigma surrounding this issue. Infertility Awareness Week in Canada is an annual campaign that takes place every April, aimed at shedding light on this often misunderstood and underdiscussed subject. This year, it runs from 23–29 April, as we renew our dedication to helping our patients navigate the challenging world of infertility and ensuring they have access to appropriate treatments and support.

Infertility is caused by a range of factors, including sperm issues, hormonal problems (e.g., polycystic ovary syndrome), pelvic factors (e.g., endometriosis or blocked fallopian tubes) and egg factors (e.g., advancing reproductive age). In about 30% of cases, the cause of infertility remains unexplained. Because our province has the oldest age of first-time mothers in Canada, early diagnosis and intervention can play a critical role in the success of infertility treatment. Educating our patients throughout their earlier reproductive lives can empower them with the information they need to make informed decisions about their future fertility.

In BC, MSP covers the consultations, follow-up visits, and investigations related to diagnosing infertility. These might include blood tests like day-3 FSH, TSH, estradiol, infectious diseases screening, and sperm testing. Of note, anti-Mullerian hormone is one of the only blood tests in the initial workup of infertility that remains private-pay (approximately $70 to $80). Imaging tests like ultrasound and hysterosalpingogram are also covered by MSP when indicated. Fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination, egg freezing, and in-vitro fertilization are not covered by provincial medical coverage but some patients may have extended medical coverage through work plans. Across Canada, partial coverage for fertility treatments exists in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.

The BCMJ is one place where you can find additional information about infertility. 

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—Caitlin Dunne, MD


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