When it comes to reproductive assistance, there are more barriers to overcome than infertility itself. Some couples face harsh criticism from friends, family, and others in their religious or cultural groups based on opinions of those societies. Others are simply left out because they are thought to be an unimportant factor in the measurement of fertility.
In the United States and other western countries, reproductive health has become a basic human right, which legally allows men and women to seek out assisted reproduction if necessary. Unfortunately, despite the laws in the country regarding reproductive health, the laws governing some cultures still prohibit the use of IVF. We proudly serve families from across the globe, so we understand the range of challenges that families face, and we are equipped to overcome those challenges with you.
Surveys and Sexual Health Statistics
During a recent study, researchers used surveys to determine how many in a large group were struggling with infertility. What they learned was that those individuals in minority groups were under-represented, not always for the reasons you’d suspect.
Globally, it is approximated that roughly 15% of partners wishing to conceive suffer from infertility issues. This information could be less than accurate, however, according to researchers who found that some groups of people were unable or unwilling to honestly complete the survey on fertility due to a lack of cultural acceptance. These people fit the group of men and women struggling with procreating but are unable to be properly represented due to social norms.
Some cultures and religious groups don’t believe in assisted reproduction, voicing it as unnatural or against their religious beliefs. Others allow some treatments, such as IVF, but frown upon the inclusion of third parties in the process. This means that while IVF is acceptable, using a surrogate or eggs from a woman outside of the couple receiving treatment is unacceptable.
Some of the individuals not included in fertility studies are not missed due to the opinions and beliefs of their culture, but due to gender stereotyping and racial profiling. For example, before 2002, men were not included in the IFSS (Integrated Fertility Survey Series), which was introduced to the United States in the 1950s. This may have been due in part to the fact that women are the individuals carrying the child, so reproductive health would be more relevant to them. After 2002, this myth was debunked, and men finally saw the acceptance of their gender as a dominant figure in the fight against infertility.
Within the last 30 years, black women, divorced women, and single women were also added to the survey. Unfortunately the gay, lesbian, and transgender community didn’t see acceptance into the survey until recently. It is unlikely that data is accurate regarding those in low income families, as well. The IFSS measures fertility in the United States, but there are separate surveys used by other countries around the world to determine sexual health factors impacting residents.
Coping with Culture Differences During IVF
While most cultural beliefs and biases toward IVF and reproductive assistance from unaccepting cultures are based in the countries or regions where those cultures are a majority, there is resistance in the United States as well. Younger couples who choose to undergo IVF despite their cultural beliefs may get negative responses from friends and family. In these situations, many will remain silent on the issue, choosing not to include their families in the experience to avoid turmoil.
It’s important to have support when undergoing fertility treatment, especially if you are feeling rejected by family for your involvement in the process. Counselling for you and your partner can help you cope individually and as a team. Support groups are also beneficial and may supply a connection to families in similar situations, both in terms of treatment and culture.
Are you facing familial or cultural pressures to avoid IVF treatment? Get in touch with our team, and we’ll be happy to walk with you on this journey.