Infertility and adoption: What you need to know

What is infertility?

Infertility is the failure to conceive for a period of 12 months or longer.

What is impaired fecundity?

Impaired fecundity is defined as difficulty in conceiving or carrying a child to term.

How many Americans are affected?

About 6.1 million women experienced impaired fecundity in 1995, compared with 4.9 million in 1988. The number of women with impaired fecundity increased to 10.2 percent in 1995 from 8.4 percent in 1988. Some of this increase is due to the aging of the baby boom generation. There were 2.1 million infertile couples in 1995, compared to 2.3 million in 1988 and 2.4 million in 1982.

Who is affected?

Impaired fecundity is not more prevalent in any one race or socioeconomic group, but those in higher socioeconomic groups use services to treat infertility far more often. Older women, childless women and married women are significantly more likely to report impaired fecundity, but differences by race or ethnicity are not significant.

There are two main factors: delayed child bearing and the very large numbers of baby boomers who have moved into their reproductive years. One demographer has estimated that the number of women with impaired fecundity may drop to 4.7 million in 2015 and then rise again to between 4.8 and 5.9 million in 2020. Almost one-third of infertile, childless married women are between 35 and 40 years old.

Who receives services to treat infertility?

Approximately 2 percent of all U.S. women of reproductive age -- 1.2 million women -- received medical advice or treatment for infertility last year and another 13 percent have received services in the past. About half of those adoptive families with fertility problems undergo medical treatment for an average of three years prior to adopting. Those using infertility services are more likely to be Caucasian, college educated, older than 30, to have higher incomes and never given birth.


Why pursue services?

Families who give birth as a result of donor insemination chose the procedure primarily because of their dissatisfaction with the adoption process on three counts:

  • Long waiting lists
  • Grueling and demeaning selection process
  • Worries about adoption laws and the security of adoptions.

Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse

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