Creation of a family is a basic human right. If you have concerns about having a baby or about infertility, there is good news! Many of the issues that cause infertility can be treated by your doctor or family planning center health professional, so begin there as a first step. If additional treatment is necessary, your doctor or family planning center can send you to a specialist in infertility.
Disparities in access to effective treatment for infertility in the United States
In the United States, many individuals with impaired fertility go untreated or under-treated. Economic, racial, culture, geographic, and other disparities exist in access to effective treatments and in treatment outcomes1.
The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) reported that during the period 2006-2010, just 38% of American women who have never given birth with current fertility problems had ever used infertility services, and most commonly those services only included medical advice and testing1. Other methods available for treating infertility include:
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
- Intrauterine insemination
A study also conducted by The College of New Jersey for Ferre Institute revealed some interesting trends related to the extent to which individuals of African descent identify with the problem of infertility.
- Some believed that infertility and sterility are one in the same
- Many believed that infertility only pertained to women and sterility pertained to men.
- Men often equate fertility with potency. This myth often contributes to the persistence of the couple’s infertility due to the male’s unwillingness to participate in the diagnostic process.
- 100% of the respondents indicated that information about infertility is not easily accessible and often is too complex; written in medical jargon that is not easily understood by the lay public.
- Most respondents were spiritually connected and believed that “God will take care of it”.
State mandated insurance coverage has been shown to increase approximately 3-fold the utilization of infertility services; however, mandates apply only to persons who have private insurance, and only to those policies that must comply with the state insurance law. This means that infertility coverage may not be available to people who are uninsured, who obtain health coverage through Medicaid or other government programs, or who obtain health insurance from employers that are either self-insured, too small to be subject to the mandate, or based outside of the mandated state.1
Studies have shown that even in states with comprehensive infertility mandates, infertility care is utilized at a higher rate by non-Hispanic white women of high socioeconomic and educational status.
Infertility is not just a woman’s problem
It is a myth that most causes of infertility are related to a woman’s reproductive health.
- 30% of cases are caused by female reproductive problems
- 30% of cases are caused by male reproductive problems
- 30% of cases are caused by BOTH male and female problems
- 10% of cases of infertility are unexplained
Key Statistics on Infertility from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG)-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Percent of all married women 15-44 years of age who are infertile (i.e., who are not surgically sterile, have not used contraception in the past 12 months, and have not become pregnant), 2011-2015:
Percent of currently married, childless women 15-44 years of age who are infertile.
By current age, 2011-2015:
15-29 years: 8.7%
30-34 years: 11.0%
35-39 years: 23.0%
40-44 years: 26.2%
Percent of women 15-44 years of age who have ever received any infertility services, 2011-2015: (7.3 million).
Percent of women 15-44 years of age who have ever received infertility services.By type of service, 2011-2015:
Medical help to prevent miscarriage: 5.4%
Tests on woman or man: 5.2%
Ovulation drugs: 4.2%
Artificial insemination: 1.4%
Percent of childless women 15-44 years of age who have ever received any infertility service.
By current age, 2011-2015:
15-29 years: 3.6%
30-34 years: 13.4%
35-39 years: 21.5%
40-44 years: 23.7%
1 Disparities in access to effective treatment for infertility in the United States: an Ethics Committee opinion. Fertil Steril 2015;104(5):1104-10.
2 Huddleston HG, et al. Racial and ethnic disparities in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2010;202(5):413-9.