Involuntary Childlessness

There are numerous reasons why a woman (or couple) may be ‘without child’. Reasons range anywhere from circumstantial childless may occur in which life circumstances such as not finding the right partner, or being diagnosed with an illness, through perinatal loss to infertility and subfertility in one or both partners.

Either way, there can be enormous grief associated with perinatal loss and involuntary childlessness, along with social stigma and alienation that leaves the sufferer with added burden to their anguish.

What many people may not realise is that involuntary childlessness, perinatal loss and infertility are not first world issues. These are problems that do not discriminate across socio-economic divides.

Moreover, in developing nations, these problems can exact an enormous toll, particularly where family is central and an integral element of community, where social support systems are lacking, or where a woman is shunned on the basis of perceptions about her reproductive status.

Did you know

The World Health Organisation describes infertility as a “global public health issue” and “disability”.

Infertility is a
global public health issue


“Infertility and subfertility affect a significant proportion of humanity. WHO has calculated that over 10% of women are inflicted – women who have tried unsuccessfully and have remained in a stable relationship for five years or more. Estimates in women using a two-year time frame, result in prevalence values 2.5 times larger. The burden in men is unknown. The overall burden of subfertility/infertility is significant, likely underestimated, and has not displayed any decrease over the last 20 years."
"Infertility is defined as a “disease of the reproductive system” and results in disability. Despite the high burden, couples and individuals, who desire but are unable to achieve and maintain a desired pregnancy, have needs which are not being addressed, especially in lower resource settings worldwide.” (source: World Health Organisation).


Perinatal Loss

Perinatal loss encompasses both early and late miscarriage, prematurity, stillbirth as well as neonatal loss. The devastation wrought by perinatal loss leaves a legacy of grief in its wake. The ripple of loss extends out from the gestational woman to her partner, their existing and extended family. One in 4 pregnancies will end in loss. 1 in 100 pregnancies will result in stillbirth. Many thousands of neonates and infants will die suddenly and unexpectedly every year. These startling statistics reveal the hidden emotional cost to thousands of women and their families every year.

But perinatal loss, much like involuntary childlessness, is shrouded in a veil of silence. There is a taboo that keeps this private anguish at arm’s length. Yet in maintaining this silence, we rob the women who grieve this loss of the opportunity to integrate their grief journey and foster the capacity for wholeness and resilience. PLICA stands in solidarity with the organisations and individuals that work tirelessly in this space in both research and support in an effort to reduce the deaths and losses, thereby alleviate the vast burden of emotional suffering in our midst.