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By: Andrew Martin (B.Soc.Sci LL.B)

In recent years assisted reproductive technology (ART) has offered hope to those struggling
with infertility in South Africa. Sperm, oocytes, and embryos can now be frozen at various
stages of development, allowing for safer and more successful ART treatments as well as
allowing for the cryopreservation of gametes and embryos for fertility preservation. In addition,
the length of time that embryos and gametes can be stored in a cryopreserved state has
increased. Thus allowing for couples to keep trying for longer and longer periods. However, it
has also had some unintended consequences. One of these unintended consequences
relates to the fate of embryos or gametes that may be “surplus” or left over after couples finish
their treatment or where something happens to the patients and they are no longer able to
provide their informed consent.

Female infertility is a growing health concern in today’s society and often, the journey from diagnosis to treatment (or failure thereof) is fraught with uncertainty and emotional distress for a woman and her partner.

There are many causes of female infertility, which are usually investigated for and diagnosed by a gynaecologist or fertility expert. Problems with egg development, ovulation or even anatomical problems with a woman’s reproductive system may be the culprits. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis are well-known examples of female medical conditions that can lead to reduced fertilit

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