Global rates of infertility remain unchanged over past two decades

In 2010, almost 50 million couples worldwide were unable to have a child after five years of trying. Infertility rates have hardly changed over the past 20 years, according to a study by international researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

In an analysis of 277 national surveys, the authors, led by Gretchen Stevens from the , estimated the levels and trends of infertility in 190 countries from 1990 to 2010. They found that in 2010, 1.9% of women aged 20 years who wanted to have children were unable to have their first (primary infertility), and 10.5% of women who had previously given birth were unable to have another baby (secondary infertility)—a total of 48.5 million couples.

The authors found that the levels of infertility were similar in 1990 and 2010, with only a slight overall decrease in primary infertility (0.1%, but with a more pronounced drop in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) and a small increase in secondary infertility (0.4%).

The authors found that primary infertility rates among women wanting to have children also varied by region, ranging from 1.5% in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010, to 2.6% in North Africa and the Middle East. Furthermore, with a few exceptions, global and country patterns of secondary infertility were similar to those of primary infertility.

The authors say: "Independent from and worldwide declines in the preferred number of children, we found little evidence of changes in infertility over two decades, apart from in the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia."

The authors continue: "In the absence of widespread data collection on time to pregnancy, the methods used and results presented here provide valuable insights into global, regional, and country patterns and trends in ."

More information: Mascarenhas MN, Flaxman SR, Boerma T, Vanderpoel S, Stevens GA (2012) National, Regional, and Global Trends in Infertility Prevalence Since 1990: A Systematic Analysis of 277 Health Surveys. PLoS Med 9(12): e1001356. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001356

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New LatAm network aims to help infertile couples

Nov 25, 2012

Latin America's new infertility network will be a support system for those unable to conceive and lead the fight for cheaper medical treatments for would-be parents, its founders told AFP.

Male infertility associated with testicular cancer

Feb 23, 2009

Men who are infertile appear to have an increased risk of developing testicular cancer, according to a report in the February 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Is infertility more common in women with epilepsy?

Oct 11, 2010

Women with epilepsy may be more likely to experience infertility, according to new research published in the October 12, 2010, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Recommended for you

Is egg freezing an empowering option for women?

Nov 17, 2014

Katie Hammond, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology researching the experience of egg donation in Canada, discusses the recent decision by tech giants Facebook and Apple to offer egg freezing to ...

Peripheral nerve blocks OK for migraines in pregnancy

Nov 14, 2014

(HealthDay)—For migraines that do not respond to medications, peripheral nerve blocks may be a treatment option in pregnant women, according to research published online Nov. 5 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Hearing the heart of the mother and her baby

Nov 14, 2014

A group of students from the Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico (UAM-I) developed a technological portable prototype able to diagnose health conditions in the mother and in the baby by monitoring ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.