Many with infertility do not seek help
Almost half of people who experience infertility do not seek medical help, a new study suggests.
UK researchers looked at over 15,100 men and women and found that one in eight women had experienced infertility, but 42% of these did not seek medical help for this. One in 10 men also experienced infertility, but 46% did not seek medical help.
Infertility was defined as unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for at least one year and the researchers said that they were ‘surprised' that almost half of people had not sought help for this problem.
The study found that the prevalence of infertility was highest among women aged between 35 and 44 and among men aged between 35 and 54.
Furthermore, at least 30% of women who had become mothers at the age of 35 or older had experienced a period of infertility compared to less than 10% of women who had their first child before the age of 25.
The researchers noted that those who did seek medical help for fertility issues were more likely to have a better education and a better job. They said that this was one of the ‘important and concerning' findings in the study.
"Studies of infertility have tended to recruit research participants from medical settings such as general practice, so our population-based survey sample provides a rare insight into those people who, despite having failed to get pregnant after a year of trying, did not seek help from health services.
"The existence of inequalities in access to healthcare is well established, but this is one of few analyses to explore uptake of services for infertility," commented lead researcher, Jessica Datta, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Meanwhile, infertility was most likely to be experienced by married couples or couples living together. This most likely reflects that people in more stable relationships are more likely to attempt to become pregnant and are therefore more likely to become aware of fertility problems.
The study also found that women up to the age of 50 who had experienced infertility were more likely to feel dissatisfied with their sex life and have symptoms of depression. This same finding was not seen in men.
Using data from other studies, the researchers said that there could be a number of reasons why people do not seek medical help for infertility, including not understanding or acknowledging that there is a problem, concerns about the cost of fertility treatment, a fear of being labelled infertile and the physical or psychological burden of undergoing fertility treatment.
While this study was carried out in the UK, the researchers believe that similar results would be found in other countries.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Human Reproduction.
[Posted: Fri 01/07/2016]