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Keywords:

  • infertility;
  • advice;
  • treatment;
  • assisted reproduction;
  • reproductive epidemiology

Abstract

Objective: To identify the factors associated with infertility, seeking advice and treatment with fertility hormones and/or in vitro fertilisation (IVF) among a general population of women.

Methods: Participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health aged 28-33 years in 2006 had completed up to four mailed surveys over 10 years (n=9,145). Parsimonious multivariate logistic regression was used to identify the socio-demographic, biological (including reproductive histories), and behavioural factors associated with infertility, advice and hormonal/IVF treatment.

Results: For women who had tried to conceive or had been pregnant (n=5,936), 17% reported infertility. Among women with infertility (n=1031), 72% (n=728) sought advice but only 50% (n=356) used hormonal/IVF treatment. Women had higher odds of infertility when: they had never been pregnant (OR=7.2, 95% CI 5.6-9.1) or had a history of miscarriage (OR range=1.5-4.0) than those who had given birth (and never had a miscarriage or termination).

Conclusion: Only one-third of women with infertility used hormonal and/or IVF treatment. Women with PCOS or endometriosis were the most proactive in having sought advice and used hormonal/IVF treatment.

Implications: Raised awareness of age-related declining fertility is important for partnered women aged ∼30 years to encourage pregnancy during their prime reproductive years and reduce the risk of infertility.