How glad we all were for Gordon and Tana Ramsay when they welcomed Baby Oscar on Wednesday. But having a family hasn’t always been easy for the celebrity chef. After years spent bending over hot stoves, Ramsay was left with a low sperm count and he and Tana sought medical assistance in starting their family.
But what about the rest of us? Just normal middle-class people living from paycheque to paycheque who want to have a family and find that, inexplicably, we can’t.
From a piece published yesterday by the DailyMail:
Over the last several decades sperm concentration has declined by more than 50 percent with no evidence of ‘leveling off’, according to a study carried out by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2017).
This study analyzed findings from 185 studies of almost 43,000 men from North America, Europe and Australia, which showed a significant decline in male reproductive health, although the researchers commented that more study is required to explore the reason for this decline.
As per usual, the medical community lays the blame and guilt for low sperm counts at the door of the man with the low sperm count. They blame it on the usual tired, old scapegoats: smoking, alcohol, stress and obesity while conveniently ignoring the smokers and drinkers of centuries past who enjoyed a large family (which undoubtedly caused them great stress without affecting their fertility!).
I’ve long believed that the the cause of infertility and low sperm counts lies not with us, but without us in our environment, our foods, our medicines. It’s being done to us; we’re not doing it to ourselves. If so, then it seems to me that the NHS and insurance companies should indeed cover the cost of fertility treatments for those of us who can’t afford to pay out of pocket.
They should help normal average people who had this funny idea that we wanted to have a family too. A few children playing on our hearth. But we can’t afford the £5,000 or more it costs for just one round of treatment with no guarantees that we’ll hear the pitter-patter of little feet.
In the States, there’s a movement afoot to correct this imbalance between the rich who can afford assistance in procreation and the rest of us who are damned to remain infertile for lack of thousands of extra pounds laying around loose. This movement seeks to define infertility as a disease, therefore obliging insurance companies to cover infertility treatments.
In some infertility support groups on Facebook, you have probably seen the acerbic comment, ‘Well, if you can’t afford fertility treatments, then you have no business bringing a child into this world’. This is a vile comment based on snobbery, not fact. My siblings and I were raised on a shoestring and grew up just fine. In place of expensive toys, we had our imaginations and each other.
I dream of a day when infertility is a thing of the past. When whatever is causing low sperm counts and the wealth of female fertility problems, will be eradicated and everyone who wants a family will be able to conceive easily and naturally. But until then, fertility should not only belong to the wealthy who can afford to pay out of pocket but to the common man and woman as well.