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International Reproductive Health Education Collaboration (IRHEC)


The International Reproductive Health Education Collaboration (IRHEC) is a multidisciplinary global collaboration dedicated to improving reproductive health awareness.


To increase reproductive health awareness using the life course approach, in order to improve reproductive health and facilitate decision-making in family planning among adolescents, people of reproductive age, primary healthcare, education professionals, and policymakers through development, evaluation and dissemination of inclusive educational resources.

Strategic Goals

  1. Conduct research to generate evidence about people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to reproductive health and family formation in different countries.
  2. Based on identified knowledge gaps and using co-design principles, develop educational resources for the public and health and education professionals that are inclusive of all communities.
  3. Evaluate the educational resources to establish their acceptability, salience, comprehensibility and effectiveness in improving knowledge and inclusivity.
  4. Promote the inclusion of reproductive health education in health and education policy and practice and advocate for a government sponsored fertility health education program in every country.

Working groups

IRHEC committee members have formed three working groups:


The education team works on the development of resources for the public and teachers in various formats. Here are some examples:

Do you remember our famous fertility educational poster? After four studies with young people asking their views of the poster, we are redesigning it under the ESHRE branding. We look forward to presenting the new format poster later this year.

Teachers want clear and evidence-based learning material to teach students about reproductive health. Our teachers’ educational resource went through a thorough consultation process with experts and users and will be ready for use later this year.

We are also developing information leaflets for the public, which are being co-designed through focus groups with the public and these will soon be open for consultation.

And we now have six personal stories from people who share their experience of fertility issues on our web site.



The research team has established a database on published papers on fertility education topics which can be found here.

The IRHEC publication on ‘Stimulating fertility awareness: the importance of getting the language right’ was published earlier in the year. Another paper ‘Operationalizing fertility education: recommendations for developing and implementing tools to improve fertility literacy’ is now in press.

The research team also conducts studies with Network members who are interested in specific research topics. There are several research activities on Fertility Knowledge Attitudes and Behaviors, across different population groups, and understanding research gaps from a global perspective. Other ongoing research includes: reproductive health education in schools, and understanding how reproductive health education is portrayed across social media platform.



The communications team is managing IRHEC’s social media. IRHEC is currently on three platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Please follow us 😊
The team also manages the IRHEC Network and makes sure people who want to join are welcomed and their details included in the Network database.
We also publish a newsletter twice per year with updates of what is happening in IRHEC and add content to the IRHEC webpage.


IRHEC publications

Harper JC, Hammarberg K, Simopoulou M, Koert E, Pedro J, Massin N, Fincham A, Balen A; International Fertility Education Initiative. The International Fertility Education Initiative: research and action to improve fertility awareness. Human Reproduction Open. 2021 Aug 25:

H Mertes, J Harper, J Boivin, M Ekstrand Ragnar, B Grace, M Moura-Ramos, S Rautakallio-Hokkanen, M Simopoulou, K Hammarberg, on behalf of the International Reproductive Health Education Collaboration (IRHEC), Stimulating fertility awareness: the importance of getting the language right, Human Reproduction Open, Volume 2023, Issue 2:

Mariana V. Martins, Emily Koert, Randi Sylvest, Eri Maeda, Mariana Moura-Ramos, Karin Hammarberg, Joyce Harper, on behalf of The International Reproductive Health Education Collaboration (IRHEC), Operationalizing fertility education: recommendations for developing and implementing tools to improve fertility literacy, Human Reproduction,

If you have feedback on any part of this website, or would like to get in touch, please feel free to contact the Chairs:


Maria Ekstrand Ragnar
Maria Ekstrand Ragnar is a registered nurse midwife and holds a PhD in Gynecology and Obstetrics from Uppsala University (2008). Maria works as a senior lecturer at the Midwifery Program and conducts research at Lund University in southern Sweden. Her primary research focus is on abortion, contraception, and sexual risk-taking, alongside research in preconception health and care.

E-mail: Maria.Ekstrand_Ragnar@med.lu.se

Joyce Harper

Joyce Harper
Immediate Past Chair
Joyce Harper is an author, academic, scientist and educator. She is Professor of Reproductive Science at University College London in the Institute for Women’s Health where she is Head of the Reproductive Science and Society Group. She is a Director of the Embryology and PGD Academy which delivers an online certificate in clinical embryology, founder of Global Women Connected and Reproductive Health at Work.

E-mail: joyce.harper@ucl.ac.uk

Bola Grace

Bola Grace
Chair elect
Bola Grace has extensive leadership experience in Women’s Health across multiple sectors including industry and academia. She values collaborative research into a variety of areas of Women's Health such as Digital Health, SRH, Health Equity, and Inclusive Innovation; leveraging the application of data science into research and praxis. She has done extensive work on fertility awareness. Bola holds a PhD in Population Health & Epidemiology from University College London and an Executive MBA from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School.
E-mail: bola.grace@ucl.ac.uk