Regarded as an innovative and unique venture by the Ministry of Public Health, a recently held infertility symposium was held to have persons discuss what is considered a taboo subject.The symposium was facilitated by the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Adventures, a Non-Governmental Organisation, at Moray’s House on September 14.Coordinator of SRHR Adventures, Dr. Faqueeda Watson-JonesDoctors and other interested stakeholders attending the meeting listened to presentations on the prevalence of infertility, how it affects couples and alternatives that can be sought after.Infertility is a condition in women which causes the inability to conceive a child. This could be as a result of an untreated Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) such as Chlamydia. It can also be as a result of delayed pregnancies or botched abortions. Men are also affected by infertility through poor behavioural patterns and health practices which can result in a weak sperm count.Addressing the gathering on behalf of the Minister of Public Health was Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Shamdeo Persaud, who explained that statistics indicated that about 5 per cent of persons worldwide are affected by infertility. This, he said, accounts for a significant figure worldwide.Further disaggregating the numbers, the statistics show that 30 per cent of infertility cases are as a result of factors relating to men, while 25-40 per cent are as a result of female issues. About 28 per cent of infertility cases are as a result of factors relating to couples (both men and women) and this includes incompatibility.Chief Medical Officer, MoPH, Dr. Shamdeo PersaudIn explaining the effects of infertility, Dr Persaud said “it [infertility] has a very wide reach, both from an individual point of view with personality issues, and in cases with couples’ – failed marriages, interpersonal relationships and even in some instances violence and distrust develop in families. We need to address some of those issues in a broader context and I am happy that psychologists and family counsellors are involved.”This issue has escalated socially resulting in persons seeking desperate solutions to correct infertility. From the perspective of the Ministry of Public Health, the CMO noted that though it is a small issue, it has a great impact on sexual and reproductive health, often leading to emotional challenges.“Infertility has been a challenge that is growing worldwide. Here in Guyana, we are no exception and we have noted that more and more, especially through social media and other outlets, that persons are trying to seek services that could enhance their own capacity,” Dr Persaud said.The symposium was themed, “What the fertility! Navigating the ups and downs of another ‘F’ word.” Coordinator of SRHR Adventures, Dr Faqueeda Watson-Jones remarked that after attending a seminar in Canada focusing on infertility, she realised that this is a sensitive topic that is not discussed enough, as there is little research done in the area.“We would have noticed on social media that there are a lot of persons who lack the knowledge of infertility or they have issues with it, hence the reason for this symposium targeting males and females to address infertility issues and explore factors which contribute to the knowledge, attitude and cultural conditions surrounding infertility.”In response, the Health Ministry has opted to first ensure that testing and treatment for STDs are available for both men and women across Guyana whether in private or public facilities. Also, through maternal health and family planning services, women can be advised on fertility treatment options available locally.