Today marks the beginning of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week 2021. Infertility affects roughly 16% of the Canadian population, and in honour of the individuals and couples affected by infertility, we’re using our platform to share some important facts with you.
Let’s start at the beginning: what is infertility?
The clinical definition of infertility is a couple who has been having unprotected sex for one year and hasn’t conceived.
Many individuals face infertility without necessarily fitting this clinical definition. For example, we have not tried to conceive naturally because we know that the risks to my health make it unsafe for us to do.
What should I know?
According to Health Canada, one in six couples in Canada experience infertility.
There is a persisting myth that infertility is a women’s issue – this is simply not true. Infertility can be rooted in either Intended Parent, or both. Canadian statistics suggest that:
- 3 times out of 10, the cause is in men.
- 4 times out of 10, the cause is in women.
- 2 times out of 10, the cause is a mix of factors from both male and female.
- 1 time out of 10, at first, no specific cause can be found.
The most common infertility treatments are intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Canadian surrogacy has seen a dramatic uptick in the past decade, with some estimates placing the increase at 400%. Even with the increase in Canadian surrogacy journeys, Intended Parents can spend years searching for a surrogate.
There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate’s acts as an egg donor and is genetically related to the child she is carrying. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate is carrying an embryo she is not related to. Gestational surrogacy is the more common type of surrogacy in Canada.
This year’s Canadian Infertility Awareness Week Theme is Hear Us – a command we absolutely take to heart. While we knew several years ago that this was the path for us, it was only at the beginning of this year when we launched this blog, that we began to meet so many other infertility warriors. These men and women, through no fault of their own, are brought together by a common desire – to grow a family. This desire is something that so many take for granted, while for us, it’s something we can only dream of. Over the past few months we have met women born without a uterus, couples suffering from repetitive miscarriages, and a number of gay men that would make the most amazing dads. Infertility impacts more folks than you’d suspect.
If these are the individuals that are public enough with their struggles to reach out to us, we can only imagine the countless more that face the perception of shame and stigma of not being able to grow their family in the way that they had first planned. Just like you hear us, we hear them. We hear that voiceless silent majority of those who just want what so many others take for granted.
We are fortunate to live in a country that accepts surrogacy as an altruistic calling. Not commercializing a person’s body means that we know whomever our surrogate is, that (like they say on The Bachelor) she is in it for the ‘right reasons.’ We are also fortunate that we live in Ontario, with a funded cycle of IVF available for any woman that needs it under the age of 43. Ontario also has gender-neutral parentage laws that allow Intended Parents (like us) to legally register the birth of our child with little government red-tape. Lastly, we’re fortunate that our employer-paid insurance coverage will cover 90% of our IVF medication when the time comes.
We say this not to boast, but to show the discrepancy within our own country. This CIAW matters because even for those who have gone public with their infertility struggles, they face countless hurdles in terms of access to affordable procedures and medications or bureaucratic nightmares. Fertility Benefits Matter has launched a new campaign to bring awareness to the struggle of infertility, and to raise its profile in employee benefits packages. We all can do our part to show solidarity with those who are experiencing infertility. We hear you.
Baden and Zane
Want to learn more about IVF funding across the provinces, surrogacy ‘lingo’, and surrogacy in the law? Visit our Resources page.
One thought on “Canadian Infertility Awareness Week”
Thanks for the post! I’m glad we live in Ontario ourselves. Our son was via a donor embryo (it was simply easier for us. Women from my culture or similar cultures are less likely to donate their eggs for cultural reasons (we found that the issue was only a little better south of the border, so it means many won’t do it even if they were paid), so for us, finding a surrogate basically limited us to BC or Ontario due to the lack of red tape as you noted above. And yes, there’s a lot of stigma…and microaggressions as well, coming from friends, family AND “kind strangers,” often suggesting adoption or even not having kids at all. And then there are cultural aspects for some people, especially in larger cities where many are either immigrants or just a generation or two out of the old country. While my parents were always very open and accepting, I actually wondered how my relatives in Hong Kong would feel when I was going through my journey. They’ve been positive to my face, but I still don’t know how they REALLY feel.