In a groundbreaking move, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has redefined “infertility” to encompass a broader and more inclusive perspective. This new definition recognizes the diverse contexts and needs of patients, which emphasizes the importance of equal access to reproductive medicine, irrespective of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Infertility was previously defined by a person with a female reproductive system attempting conception with a partner with a male reproductive system and not having success after 6 – 12 months (depending on their age). The ASRM Practice Committee’s updated definition acknowledges that the challenges of reproduction can stem from a variety of causes and is not as straightforward as previously outlined.
Specifically, those who have historically been unable to fit into the definition of requiring fertility treatment, such as same-sex couples, single moms by choice, LGBTQ+ partnerships, are finally included in the official definition which can lead to increased insurance coverage and access to care.
Let’s dive into the details of this momentous change!
The New Definition
ASRM’s redefined “infertility” is now characterized by any of the following conditions:
- Inability to Achieve a Successful Pregnancy: This includes a patient’s medical history, sexual and reproductive history, age, physical findings, diagnostic testing, or any combination of these factors.
- Need for Medical Intervention: Infertility now also encompasses cases where medical intervention is required to achieve a successful pregnancy. This intervention may include the use of donor gametes or donor embryos, either for an individual or a partner.
- Timely Evaluation: For patients engaging in regular, unprotected intercourse without known reproductive issues, evaluation should begin at 12 months if the female partner is under 35 years old, and at 6 months in the female partner is 35 years or older.
Importantly, the new definition emphasizes that no one should be denied or delayed treatment based on their relationship status or sexual orientation.
What This Means Moving Forward
This updated definition of infertility is not just a change in semantics. It represents a profound shift in the way we perceive reproductive challenges and the care provided to individuals or couples seeking assistance. It recognizes that family-building is a deeply personal journey that can vary widely among different individuals and relationships.
ASRM has a strong history of evidence-based education, growing and supporting innovative research and developing ethical and quality standards in patient care and this redefinition builds upon that foundation. It is also a response to the needs of a diverse patient population, reflecting the clinical reality that patients come from various backgrounds with distinct treatment requirements.
An Inclusive Approach
Jared Robins, MD, ASRM CEO, emphasized the importance of this new definition in ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their circumstances, have equal access to reproductive medicine. ASRM has shared they are committed to working with their members and policymakers to normalize this updated definition and Extend Fertility will be helping to disseminate and enforce this change to further advance inclusivity and equitable access to ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) and fertility care.
This is a significant step forward in acknowledging the multifaceted nature of conception and family-building and the importance of treating it with empathy, respect, and inclusivity.