Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



JOURNAL OF WOMEN’S HEALTH Volume 25, Number 2, 2016, pp. 133-138. DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2015.5390


Copyright 2016 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Used by permission.


Background: Fewer than 50% of women who meet the medical/behavioral criteria for infertility receive medical services. Estimating the number of women who both meet the medical/behavioral criteria for infertility and who have pro-conception attitudes will allow for better estimates of the potential need and unmet need for infertility services in the United States.

Methods: The National Survey of Fertility Barriers was administered by telephone to a probability sample of 4,712 women in the United States. The sample for this analysis was 292 women who reported an experience of infertility within 3 years of the time of the interview. Infertile women were asked if they were trying to conceive at the time of their infertility experience and if they wanted to have a child to determine who could be considered in need of services.

Results: Among U.S. women who have met medical criteria for infertility within the past three years, 15.9% report that they were neither trying to have a child nor wanted to have a child and can be classified as not in need of treatment. Of the 84.9% of infertile women in need of treatment, 58.1% did not even talk to a doctor about ways to become pregnant.

Discussion: Even after taking into account that not all infertile women are in need of treatment, there is still a large unmet need for infertility treatment in the United States.

Conclusion: Studies of the incidence of infertility should include measures of both trying to have a child and wanting to have a child.