Study Reveals Significant Gaps in Fertility Knowledge

As Canadian Infertility Awareness Week kicks off May 24, 25,000 petition signatures support public funding of infertility treatments; Ministry of Health actively considering funding in vitro fertilization

CALGARY, May 22, 2014 /CNW/ - A new survey on infertility reveals most people have a startling lack of knowledge about their own fertility, and the treatment options available to them. Yet, when it comes to issues around cost and access, a majority of Albertans feel fertility treatments are too expensive for the average family, and support public funding of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The national survey was conducted by Generations of Hope in partnership with other Canadian infertility patient advocacy groups in support of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week - kicking off May 24.

When it comes to general knowledge, the survey revealed a majority of Canadians don't know when to seek treatment for infertility, and few are having conversations about fertility with their doctors. Among the findings:

  • Over half of Canadians (53 per cent) don't know women and men have equal incidence of infertility.
  • Nearly one third of Canadians (32 per cent) and almost half of men (42 per cent) don't realize a woman's eggs age with her.
  • Over half of Canadians (51 per cent) and of men (59 per cent) don't realize a man's sperm ages with him.
  • Two thirds of Canadians (66 per cent) don't know that in vitro fertilization is the most effective treatment for infertility.
  • Over half of Canadians (55 per cent) don't realize they should seek treatment for infertility after actively trying to get pregnant for one year.
  • The majority of Canadians (81 per cent) think it is the family doctor's responsibility to educate Canadians on their fertility but only 15 per cent of Canadians report having that discussion.

Many common diseases contribute to infertility, including endometriosis, diabetes, hypothyroidism and cancer. For those experiencing infertility, many will turn to in vitro fertilization, the clinical best practice to treat infertility, in their efforts to create their families.

Cost of treatment, access to treatment services and lack of knowledge were identified in the survey as the top three barriers to treatment for those facing infertility. According to Alberta survey results, eighty four per cent of Albertans agree that the cost of fertility treatments is too expensive for the average family.

Due to the limited access to infertility treatment services outside of major urban cities and the average out-of-pocket cost of in vitro fertilization treatments ranging from $8,000 to $14,500, including drugs, many couples either can't proceed with treatment or are faced with the decision to transfer more than one embryo per treatment cycle to increase their chances of getting pregnant. Transferring more than one embryo can often result in a multiple birth. Multiples are not only a high risk pregnancy but are also 17 times more likely to be born pre-term and need expensive care at birth and throughout their lives.

Other provinces have already taken steps to support residents suffering from infertility. Quebec has been publicly funding in vitro fertilization treatments since 2010, and the Government of Manitoba provides a tax credit to cover the costs of infertility treatment up to 40 per cent. Most recently, Ontario announced in its 2014 Budget funding for a single cycle of single embryo transfer in vitro fertilization.

"If we believe in the importance of building families for all Albertans, not just those who are economically advantaged, we must publically fund IVF - so all Albertans struggling with infertility have the opportunity to have children," says Terri Abraham, President of Generations of Hope. "This will make starting a family more accessible for Albertans in all corners of the province and will ultimately pay health, social and fiscal dividends into the future. I urge the Alberta Minister of Health to make the right choice for Alberta families and the health system by considering expanding funding for infertility treatments in the province.

A recent report commissioned by the Alberta Government and conducted by the University of Alberta's School of Public Policy shows cost savings to our healthcare system of up to $97 million dollars over 18 years if fertility treatments, tied to a single embryo transfer policy, were publicly funded. If the wider societal costs are taken into account, the actual savings realized to the Province could be up to $179 million over 18 years.

"I faced infertility in my early 20s but was lucky to be able to afford treatment. I was blessed with a twin pregnancy in my first attempt; however, it was a much more complicated pregnancy and I was monitored more closely than an expectant mother of a singleton," says Shelby Dwyer, Calgary, Alberta mom. "As we approach Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, I would like to challenge Canadians to consider - if your son or daughter faced this medical condition, wouldn't you want treatment to be available to them?"

"The possibility for affordable IVF treatments in Alberta is welcome news to many of my patients, as well as the countless others suffering from infertility who have not been able to afford treatment to build their families," says Dr. Cal Greene, Director of the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary. "Many of my patients are young and not financially in a position to afford expensive fertility treatments. Publicly funding IVF treatment tied to a single embryo transfer policy will result in significant financial savings to the healthcare system while achieving better health outcomes for mothers and babies."

Survey Methodology: From April 14th to April 29th, 2014, an online survey was conducted among two sample groups. The first is a sample of 2007 Canadian adults age 18+, who are also Angus Reid Forum panel members. This group has a margin of error — which measures sampling variability — of +/-2.19%, 19 times out of 20. The sample was balanced by age, gender, region and education according to the most recent census data. The second group is a sample of 510 residents of Nova Scotia, aged 18+. This group has a margin of error of 4.34%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About Generations of Hope (GOH) GOH is a non-profit organization devoted to raising awareness of infertility and helping couples struggling with infertility attain their dream of a family.  Through the Generations of Hope Fertility Assistance Fund, families for whom IVF treatment is a challenging financial option can receive assistance for treatment at the Regional Fertility Program.  Since 1985, there have been nearly 10,000 IVF births through the IVF program in Calgary.

For more information, visit:

Generations of Hope website - www.genertationsofhope.ca
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/generationsofhope
Twitter - https://twitter.com/gensofhope

SOURCE: Generations of Hope

For further information:

and to speak to Dr. Cal Greene, Director of the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary, Terri Abraham, President of Generations of Hope, or Shelby Dwyer, Calgary, Alberta mom, please contact:

Jeremy Twigg, FleishmanHillard
Direct: 604-630-0395
Mobile: 604-306-4036
jeremy.twigg@fleishman.ca

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