Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR)


Date of this Version

January 2007


Published in Human Reproduction Vol.22, No.3 pp. 885–894, 2007. Copyright © The Author 2006. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. Used by permission.


BACKGROUND: We examined fertility-specific distress (FSD) and general distress by type of fertility barrier (FB).
METHODS: In a random sample telephone survey, 580 US women reported their fertility intentions and histories. Six groups of women were identified: (i) no FBs, (ii) infertile with intent, (iii) infertile without intent, (iv) other fertility problems, (v) miscarriages and (vi) situational barriers. Multiple regression analyses were used to compare groups with FBs.
RESULTS: Sixty-one percent reported FBs and 28% reported an inability to conceive for at least 12 months. The infertile with intent group had the highest FSD, which was largely explained by (a) self-identification as infertile and (b) seeking medical help for fertility. The no FB group had a mean Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale score above the commonly used cut-off of 16, although 23% of the women with FBs did score above 16.
CONCLUSIONS: FBs are common. Self-identification as infertile is the largest source of FSD. More women with FBs had elevated general distress than women without FBs; mean general distress was below 16 for all FB groups. It may be that, for some women (even those with children), FBs can have lasting emotional consequences, but many women do heal from the emotional distress that may accompany fertility difficulties.

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