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Infertility Services Less Widely Used Than in Past Decades, CDC Finds

Infertility Services Less Widely Used Than in Past Decades, CDC Finds

January 27, 2014 — A smaller percentage of women who have trouble becoming pregnant are seeking medical help for infertility than three decades ago, according to a new report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, LiveScience/Huffington Post reports (Gholipour, LiveScience/Huffington Post, 1/22).

NCHS researchers estimated nationwide use of fertility services by reviewing 22,682 interviews with men and women ages 15 to 44 from the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth. They compared the findings with NSFG reports from 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002.

Key Findings

Overall, 17% of women in the age group had ever used infertility services in 2006-2010, compared with 20% in 1995, the researchers found. The change was sharper among women who had never given birth and reported difficulty becoming pregnant: 38% in 2006-2010, compared with 56% in 1982.

More than five million women in the age group, or 13%, had sought some form of medical help to become pregnant in the 2006-2010 survey, the researchers found. The most commonly used services included asking a doctor's advice, fertility testing, medical treatment to prevent miscarriage and ovulation drugs. Less than 1% of women had ever used assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (Brown, Medscape, 1/22).

Reasons for Changes

The researchers wrote that the decline in use of infertility services might be partly attributed to an increase in women who delayed becoming pregnant, such as those who attempted to become pregnant after age 44 and were outside the study's parameters. They also said the findings could reflect changes in some women's responses to infertility issues, such as choosing adoption or deciding not to have children.

The researchers also noted some that there were demographic differences in use of infertility services, which were consistent with other studies. Although infertility rates are the same across all groups, women who are white and have higher levels of income and education are most likely to use infertility services, they said (LiveScience/Huffington Post, 1/22).