Infertile people cannot have children. Infertility can be biological or social. Biological or medical infertility may be caused by physical conditions such as a low sperm count or a hormonal imbalance. Social infertility is an outcome of life chances and circumstance. The fertility of both women and men drops as they age. Women are most fertile between 19 and 25.
Some people choose not to have children. Others who would like to have children do not because of their circumstances, for example not having a partner or not feeling they have enough money. Voluntary childlessness is increasingly common.
The introduction of assisted reproductive technologies in the early 1980s meant that some infertile people were able to have children. Treatments include insemination using donor sperm and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), where eggs are fertilised in a laboratory and then transferred into a woman’s womb.
Eligibility and cost
People in New Zealand can have up to two fertility treatments paid for by the government if they meet certain criteria. They can also pay to have treatment and the costs vary with treatment options. One cycle of IVF at a private provider cost between $11,000 and $13,000 in 2017.
Surrogacy is a form of reproductive assistance that involves a woman carrying a baby in her womb for another couple or individual. The child may be the surrogate’s genetic child (from the father’s sperm), or could be from a fertilised egg implanted through IVF. In New Zealand, surrogate mothers cannot be paid beyond reimbursement for 'reasonable and necessary expenses' (Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004, section 14(4)).
The Human Assisted Reproduction Act 2004 governs fertility treatments, and new procedures have to be approved by the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ACART) before they can be offered by fertility clinics.