Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Lowry, et al.; Women’s Health Reports 2020, 1.1




Objective: To examine how measures of infertility based on medical criteria and based on self-perception relate to depressive symptoms among women with infertility. Background: Survey-based studies of depressive symptoms have used either measures of self-reported infertility based on meeting medical criteria or measures of self-perceived fertility problems, but seldom both. It is, therefore, not known which type of measure is more closely associated with depressive symptoms. Materials and Methods: Using ordinary least-squares multiple regression, this study compares associations between a measure of meeting medical criteria for infertility and a measure of self-perceived fertility problems with a common measure of depressive symptoms. Data come from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers, a population-based survey of 4,711 U.S. women. Results: Both meeting medical criteria for infertility and self-perception were associated with depressive symptoms after controlling for a number of relevant variables, but the coefficient for the self-perception measure was slightly higher than the coefficient for medical criteria. Conclusion: If possible, both medical criteria and self-perception measures should be used in studies of the consequences of infertility for psychosocial outcomes. If only one measure can be used, self-perception of a fertility problem is an acceptable measure.