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200,000 Korean women diagnosed with infertility yearly: data

By Claire Lee

Published : June 19, 2018 - 18:11

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Some 200,000 South Korean women have been diagnosed with infertility annually since 2010, and among them, 60 percent have experienced depression, government data showed Tuesday.

The study, organized and released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, also showed that 86.7 percent of 214,588 Korean women who were treated for infertility in 2015 said they have felt depressed, worthless and isolated.

At the same time, 26.7 percent said they have considered taking their own lives due to depression caused by infertility. Only 4.1 percent said they sought professional or medical help for their depression and other emotional needs. 

Korea saw its lowest-ever birthrate last year at 1.05 births per mother, falling under the previous record low set in 2005. The government has been emphasizing that Korea needs a birthrate of 2.1 births per mother, to keep its population level stable.
(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

According to the government, there are a number of reasons behind the low birthrate. One has to do with more women putting off marriage and motherhood, for both personal and professional reasons. As of last year, the average age at which Korean women had their first baby was 31.6, which was the oldest in the world.

The study showed that the average age of all women who sought fertility treatment in 2015 was 35.6.

As one of its demographic policies to tackle the low birthrate, the Korean government has been providing state allowances since 2006 for Koreans who seek fertility treatments. In 2010, the Ministry of Health and Welfare started giving allowances to those who wish to receive IUI and external fertilization procedures.

The budget for the program increased dramatically from 31.5 billion won in 2007 to 92.5 billion won in 2016.

Still, the treatments do not guarantee a baby. Only 13.9 percent of those who received IUI, and 29.6 percent of those who received external fertilization procedures in 2016 were able to become pregnant through the treatments.

To provide support for women experiencing depression caused by infertility, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is launching a new, state-run medical facility in Seoul this week. 

The center, which will be located within the National Medical Center, will offer counselling for women undergoing fertility treatments, as well as mothers who are experiencing post-partum depression, the ministry said.

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com