AMA Supports Disease Designation for Infertility
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infertility is not simply an inconvenience. It should be viewed as a disease of the reproductive system. In June, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) authored a resolution supporting this perspective. It was joined by another influential organization, the American Medical Association (AMA) when delegates at the AMA Annual Meeting voted to adopt the designation of infertility as a disease.1
The ASRM resolution was co-sponsored by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Urological Association (AUA), the Endocrine Society, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.1
As news stories about plummeting sperm counts and other infertility stories continue to capture headlines, why is it significant that so many esteemed organizations have labeled infertility a disease? In fact, this designation has potentially significant ramifications for the one in eight couples of childbearing age who are struggling to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, including those for whom a physiological cause cannot be determined.2
For one, it may change how patients and physicians view this complex condition, as well as the urgency of fertility treatment. Early treatment not only improves the overall chances of pregnancy, but may also alleviate some of the emotional impacts of infertility, such as depression, inadequacy, and social isolation.2
In addition, the combined authority of several medical organizations backing this designation may influence how insurers respond, improving access to treatments that can be quite expensive. A few large insurance companies such as Cigna, Optum Health, and Aetna currently cover some types of treatment in the U.S., but not all do.2 For many couples struggling with infertility, that could mean the difference between receiving infertility treatment or not.
2. AMA Wire: AMA backs global health experts in calling infertility a disease. Available at: https://wire.ama-assn.org/ama-news/ama-backs-global-health-experts-calling-infertility-disease Accessed 8-14-17.