Wanted: A Child

Infertility services used by fewer women in recent years than in past

(RxWiki News) For those who desperately want to have a child, it can be a long and emotional journey to try to get pregnant. Yet a wide range of infertility services exist.

A recent report found that a smaller percentage of women are taking advantage of those services in recent years.

The report's authors noted that the challenging economy may be one factor in the decrease. Or women could be seeking help for infertility when they are older than 44, the oldest age surveyed for this report.

"Ask your OB/GYN about infertility services."

The report was issued by Anjani Chandra, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and her colleagues.

The report focused on how many women and men sought services for infertility and their demographics.

The researchers analyzed data from 22,682 interviews with men and women, aged 15 to 44, throughout the US.

Although the report includes data for respondents across this full age range, most of the information focused on findings for women aged 25 to 44 — those more likely to seek help for infertility. The researchers found that 17 percent of women aged 25 to 44 had ever used a infertility service, down from 20 percent in 1995.

Infertility services included a wide range of resources and treatments, including:

  • advice (such as when to have intercourse)
  • infertility testing for a woman or her partner
  • medications to improve ovulation
  • surgery to fix blocked fallopian tubes
  • artificial insemination, in which sperm is medically injected into a woman
  • in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which a woman's egg and a man's sperm are fertilized outside the body and then implanted into the woman
  • surgery for endometriosis, uterine fibroids or other female pelvic issues
  • other medical help to get pregnant

Even among women who specifically had current fertility problems, the percentage of those seeking help dropped from past years.

Among women without children who had current fertility problems in 2006-2010, 38 percent sought infertility services, compared to 56 percent in 1982.

Meanwhile, though, about 41 to 46 percent of all women with fertility problems, whether they had children or not, sought infertility services throughout all the years from 1982 to 2010.

Those most likely to seek services for infertility were older women, white women, those without any children, those with current fertility problems and those with higher levels of income and/or education.

In fact, only 13 percent of women aged 25 to 44 who lived below the federal poverty line had used infertility services.

Meanwhile, about 21 percent of women living at four times the federal poverty level had used these services.

The services women most often used were advice, infertility tests, medical care to help prevent miscarriages, and medications to help with ovulation.

Only about 1.7 percent of women aged 25 to 44 used artificial insemination, and 0.7 percent used assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF.

The researchers recommended that a national action plan be considered to address the inequalities among the groups of women and men who seek help for infertility.

The report was published January 22 by the CDC. The research was funded by the CDC, and the authors had no potential conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
January 26, 2014