Omega Family Global provides this background information on infertility as a courtesy to its clients and site visitors. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Global Frequency of Infertility
Global infertility rates are difficult to determine, due to the presence of both male and female factors and how infertility is defined. However, according to the World Health Organization, global rates of infertility have not declined in the past decade.
In December 2012 the World Health Organization published pooled results of 277 studies on the subject of infertility. The WHO used survey data to calculate the prevalence of and trends in infertility in 190 countries and territories. They used a demographic infertility measure with live birth as the essential outcome and a 5-year exposure period based on union status, contraceptive use, and desire for a child.
The data indicated that among women in relationships 20 – 44 years of age, without prior children, between 1.7% and 2.2% were not able to have a child. This would indicate a primary infertility rate of 1.9%. Of those women that had a prior child and were in relationships, between 9.5% and 11.7% were unable to have another child. This would indicate an average secondary infertility rate of 10.5%.
The WHO report concluded the absolute number of couples affected by infertility increased from approximately 42 million in 1990 to 48.5 million in 2010. With some exceptions in developing countries, global rates of infertility have remained relatively stable between 1990 and 2010. The shear increase in global population accounts for the increased number of couples affected by infertility. This survey did not report specific infertility rates in men.
The WHO report, entitled “National, Regional, and Global Trends in Infertility: a Systematic Analysis of 277 Health Surveys” can be found at the following link:
Research article – http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/infertility/277survey…
Infertility in the United States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC: www.cdc.gov), a US government agency, compiles and publishes statistics on infertility. Data published on their website, updated as of October 2013, indicate the following (US only) data:
- There are 6.7 million woman between the ages 15–44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term)
- 10.9% of women between the ages of 15–44 have impaired fecundity
- There are 1.5 million women between the ages 15–44 who are infertile (unable to get pregnant after at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sex with partner)
- 6.0% of married women ages 15–44 are infertile
- 7.4 million women between the ages of 15–44 have used infertility services
According to a recent CDC report (cited below), the percentage of married women (aged 15–44) who were infertile, fell from 2.4 million (8.5%) in 1982 to 1.5 million (6%) from 2006–2010. However, impaired fecundity among married women aged 15–44 increased from 11% in 1982 to 15% in 2002 and then decreased to 12% later from 2006–2010. The study authors reported that among all women, 11% had impaired fecundity in the later time frame of 2006–2010. They also noted that both infertility and impaired fecundity remained closely associated with age for nulliparous women (those never having had a child).
Regarding infertility in men, the authors reported some form of infertility (either sub fertility or sterility) in 9.4% of US men aged 15–44 (2006–2010 survey data). In a survey group of men slightly older (25–44) the rate of infertility was 12%.
More information can be accessed in the CDC report, released in August 2013, entitled Infertility and Impaired Fecundity in the United States, 1982-2010, Data From the National Survey of Family Growth. A copy of this report can be accessed through this link: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr067.pdf