Have I Been Living In A Bubble?

Infertility rates are higher in the last ten years than they have been since we started tracking such data.  In 2006, the infertility rate was at 46% according to the National Health Statistics Report (see http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr067.pdf).  I can think of five women in my circle of maybe twenty that are having fertility issues.  Those are the women that are actively trying to have a child.

By Ernest F (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ernest F (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Wait, people are purposely trying to conceive one of these slimy, screaming things?

This extremely high rate of infertility amazed me.  If you look at the National Health Statistics Report, it looks like infertility is an overwhelming problem.  Surely we would hear about it on the news if this rate was correct.  This would be national news until a solution and improvement was found.  Right?  Almost half of child-bearing aged women are unable to conceive?  That has to be resulting in a future population crisis.  How is this not news?  I don’t live in a bubble….do I?

So I Google’d.  There is a lot of contradicting statistics being reported.  One site offered a statistic of 12%, another listed 10.7% of all women 15-44 are infertile.  That seems to be much more believable, especially since we have things like in-vitro fertilization, and MTV’s show 16 and Pregnant.  Plus, how many 15 year-old girls are actively, purposely, TRYING to get pregnant?  That number must be almost non-existent.

Then I searched some more.  The Centers for Disease Control had this to say:

  • Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term): 6.7 million

  • Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired fecundity: 10.9%

  • Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant after at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sex with husband): 1.5 million

  • Percent of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile: 6.0%

  • Number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.4 million


That is a direct copy and paste from this link: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/fertile.htm

Ok.  So I see that obviously they do not think impaired fecundity and infertility are the same thing.  I see the definitions in parentheses.  But that still does not explain that incredibly high statistic of 46%.  So I kept looking.

On the same CDC site referenced above, they credit the source of their information to be the National Survey of Family growth.  If you follow that link you will find even more confusing and contradicting statistics.  Below is a direct quote of what I found:


NOTE: The difference between impaired fecundity and infertility: In the report cited below, “infertility” is presented only for married couples and refers only to problems getting pregnant. “Impaired fecundity” is presented for all women, regardless of marital status, and includes problems getting pregnant and problems carrying a baby to term.

20021 2006-20102
Percent of all married women 15-44 years of age who are infertile (i.e., who are not surgically sterile, and have had at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sexual intercourse without becoming pregnant) 7.4% 6.0%

Percent of currently married, childless women 15-44 years of age who are infertile by current age:

20021 2006-20102
Total 15-44 years 16.6% 14.0%
15-29 years3 11.0% 8.1%
30-34 years 16.9% 9.1%
35-39 years 22.6% 24.7%
40-44 years 27.4% 29.7%



I realize that is a lot of information to dissect.  Let’s first look at the infertility rate listed at the beginning.  They have listed in the first table 7.4%, then 6%.  Now, if you look at the next table, it is immediately clear that women of every age bracket listed have a higher rate of infertility than what was just stated immediately previous to this table of information.


By Blechhhy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Who is tabulating these things and how are they reaching these numbers?  Whoever it is had better not be part of the IRS.  Or a public accountant.  Or in charge of helping a first grader with math.  Ever.

I did a little more looking at the National Survey of Family Growth.  I continued to look at all the fine print in hopes of finding a simple solution, such as there is a different criteria they are using on one chart and not the other, or some such governmental-type oops that is only evident if you read the fine print.

You will never guess what I found.  Go ahead, try to guess.  I dare you!  The National Survey of Family Growth attributes its source of information for the 2006-2010 statistics as the National Health Statistics Report–yes, the same one I read that states the infertility rate is 46%–on not just one of the tables above, but both!

The bottom line is there is no bottom line.  I am no closer to understanding what infertility rates are right now than when I started my fact-finding mission three hours ago.  All I have gained is a headache, blurred vision, and a serious case of what I like to call gluteus maximus numbus…

If anyone out there has any tips on finding correct, current statistics that do not spiral out into a circle of death, please post a comment below!



5 Replies to “Have I Been Living In A Bubble?”

  1. I had no idea the statistics about this weren’t reliable! And i definitely lived in a bubble! For all 15 years that i prevented pregnancy it never crossed my mind that i could eventually be going through an infertility issue. Maybe if i knew how common it is, i would’ve looked into it a lot sooner… Ella Andrade go_dani_go@yahoo.com

    1. Ella,

      I am going through my own infertility struggle currently, after having a healthy baby girl six years ago. It didn’t even cross my mind that it might take my husband and I more than six months to conceive.

      My knee-jerk reaction is to blame the inferility on the widespread, long-term use of birth control pills. Women are using them sooner in life and for longer periods than we did in 1965. But, the rate of obesity has increased right along with infertility rates. Well, not that I can trust the published fertility rates, but you get the point.

      Good luck to you with your endeavors and thanks for commenting!

      Happy Reading,

      Mindy Minix

      1. Hi Mindy, I’m sorry its taking you this long! I couldn’t imagine… Its been 15 months for us…I’m no sure i share your view that BPC ate to blame, i hear good things about them, like they prevent ovarian cancer. What pissed me off is that i grew completely psychotic about not getting pregnant that i don’t thing i ever forgot 1 pill in over 10 years. My mom always said that my dad looked at her and she would get pregnant. So i never considered it couldnt get pregnant easily like everybody else :/

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