Infertility Declining in Married American Women

Significant decline since 1982 cannot be explained by compositional changes in U.S. population

TUESDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Since 1982, 12-month infertility has significantly decreased among married U.S. women, but the cause is not related to compositional changes in the U.S. population, according to a study in the September issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Elizabeth Hervey Stephen, Ph.D., of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a colleague analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth on a nationally representative sample of 15,303 married women aged 15 to 44 across four survey years.

The researchers found that 12-month infertility declined from 8.5 percent in 1982 to 7.4 percent in 2002, and occurred in nearly all subgroups even after controlling for compositional changes in the U.S. population. Their multivariate analysis showed that 12-month infertility was more common among older, nulliparous women, Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks and women without a college degree.

"Additional studies should address in more detail the causal factors for the decline in infertility, which may also lead to a better understanding of the increase in self-reported impaired fecundity," the authors conclude. "It will be imperative to determine if the infertility decline is due to the impatience to conceive, i.e., seeking medical attention much earlier than the 12-month window in which infertility is measured for the National Survey of Family Growth, or if it is a true decline due to improving health status and behaviors."

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