Fertility Blog

UK Survey: Infertility a Problem for 1 in 8 Women and 1 in 10 Men

Conducted between 2010 and 2012, Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found that 1 in 8 women and 1 in 10 men have struggled with infertility at some point in their lives. After surveying more than 15,000 women and men, ages 16 to 74, the researchers published their findings in the journal Human Reproduction.

As expected, age was a major player. Those who had children after age 35 were more likely to report problems than those who had them before age 25. In fact, the infertility rate was nearly 18 percent for women ages 35 to 44. And, increased prevalence of infertility was associated with those who had become partnered later in life and, for those who had a child, becoming parents at older ages. Also, there was a link between infertility and higher socio-economic status.

Only a little more than half those who’d struggled with infertility had sought help—more common among better educated individuals and those in higher-status jobs, as well as those who had become parents later in life. Those with lower levels of education and job status reported infertility less often. Concerned by these findings, the researchers suggested that this could be due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Lack of understanding about infertility
  • Fear of labels
  • Concerns about treatment costs and burdens
  • Less emphasis on career, which can delay family building

As part of the survey, the researchers also discovered that women 50 and younger who had experienced infertility were more likely to have symptoms of depression and dissatisfaction with their sex life. The same was not true for men.

Although the researchers conducted the survey in the UK, they suggested that similar patterns would very likely be found in the U.S. and other developed countries.


  1. Wellings, K, Datta J, and Palmer MJ, et al. Prevalence of infertility and help seeking among 15,000 women and men. Human Reproduction. 2016.
  2. Reuters: One in eight women experience infertility
  3. Medical Daily: Infertility Impacts 1 in 8 Women And Only Half Seek Medical Attention; Couples Experience Depression, Anger, And Sexual Dissatisfaction
  4. TimesofMalta.com: One in eight women have trouble getting pregnant
  5. Bionews.org: One-fifth of UK women over 35 struggling to conceive
  6. Newsroom America: Survey Of 15,000 Women And Men Reveals Scale Of Infertility

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