Prior to 1951 no international organisation existed devoted to the investigation and treatment of human infertility. International co-operation and dialogue in the field of fertility and sterility can be said to have truly commenced in 1951 in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, with the formation of the International Fertility Association (IFA), an association of individual members. The purposes of the Association were:
- To sponsor the holding of international congresses in the specialty at regular intervals and in different parts of the world.
- To standardise and orient processes for the studying and classifying of sterility all over the world.
- To encourage scientific and social research in the field of infertility without limitation of national frontiers
Eminent scientists from various parts of the world became members and triennial World Conferences in Fertility and Sterility were organized, the first in New York, USA, in May, 1953.
At the Sixth World Conference held in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1968, the IFFS was born. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up and remain today to govern the actions of IFFS, a federation of National Fertility Societies. The first elected President of the IFFS was Hubert De Watteville, one of the founding fathers of FIGO. Since 1991, FIGO World Congresses have held a special De Watteville Lecture, organised jointly between the IFFS and FIGO.
The IFFS membership has grown and at present, over 65 National Fertility Societies are affiliated. It is estimated over 50,000 specialists worldwide concerned in the areas of fertility and sterility are brought together under one umbrella organization.