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World Health Organisation recognises infertility as a disease

30 November 2009
Appeared in BioNews 536

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in conjuntion with the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART), has formally recognised infertility as a disease in its new international glossary of Assistive Reproductive Technologies (ART) terminology. The jointly-prepared glossary appeared simultaneously in journals Fertility and Sterility and Human Reproduction.

According to the glossary, infertility is 'a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse'.

The move was described as 'a significant milestone for the condition' by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). 'We applaud the WHO for leading this important effort and for being so clear about the disease status of infertility', said Dr William Gibbons, ASRM President. He added: 'For too long those suffering from infertility have had their condition slighted or even ignored. Insurance companies don't pay to treat it, governments don't put adequate resources to study it and consequently patients suffer. We hope that this international recognition that infertility is, in fact, a disease will allow it to be treated like other diseases'.

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