Female subfertility

Cynthia M Farquhar (Corresponding Author), Siladitya Bhattacharya, Sjoerd Repping, Sebastiaan Mastenbroek, Mohan S Kamath, Jane Marjoribanks, Jacky Boivin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Subfertility is common and affects one in six couples, half of whom lack an explanation for their delay in conceiving. Developments in the diagnosis and treatment of subfertility over the past 50 years have been truly remarkable. Indeed, current generations of couples with subfertility are more fortunate than previous generations, as they have many more opportunities to become parents. The timely access to effective treatment for subfertility is important as many couples have a narrow window of opportunity before the age-related effects of subfertility limit the likelihood of success. Assisted reproduction can overcome the barriers to fertility caused by tubal disease and low sperm count, but little progress has been made in reducing the effect of increasing age on ovarian function. The next 5-10 years will likely see further increases in birth rates in women with subfertility, a greater awareness of lifestyle factors and a possible refinement of current assisted reproduction techniques and the development of new ones. Such progress will bring challenging questions regarding the potential benefits and harms of treatments involving germ cell manipulation, artificial gametes, genetic screening of embryos and gene editing of embryos. We hope to see a major increase in fertility awareness, access to safe and cost-effective fertility care in low-income countries and a reduction in the current disparity of access to fertility care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalNature reviews. Disease primers
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2019


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