Fertility research has excluded certain groups. Find out why and who was excluded.
Infertility is experienced by anyone and it does not discriminate by geography, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. In order to accurately measure infertility, the right data needs to be collected. Such data collection requires accuracy in using the right data parameters and relevant data sources.
Sadly, a recent report reveals that some infertility groups have been excluded from large-scale surveys that collected such infertility data. The individuals belonging to those infertile groups have been identified as the “invisible infertile”. This sheds light on fertility norms and survey biases associated with social inequalities. In the U.S. alone, for example, the Integrated Fertility Survey Series (IFSS) excluded men from fertility data until the year 2002. What this means is that even though men are responsible for up to 50% of infertility cases, women only were the primary source of all infertility data – which included symptoms related to male infertility (impotence, erectile dysfunction, etc.). IFSS, as well, did not let participants identify as LGBTQ until the last decade. Overall, these practices cast doubt on the validity of the analytic tools and findings of research conducted about infertility up until now.
What exclusion from fertility research by certain groups means to those groups?
The exclusion of marginalized groups and racial minorities leads to ineffective policymaking, which in turn, obstructs access to necessary medical assistance and fertility care – a basic human right. From this point on, accurately designed survey instruments must be implemented in order to accurately assess the current fertility and infertility landscape that includes and accounts for everyone.
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