Women Shoulder Infertility Worries, Survey Suggests

A sad young woman takes a pregnancy test.
A young woman looks with disappointment at a pregnancy test. (Image credit: Piotr Marcinski, Shutterstock)

Women who are trying to get pregnant do more than their fair share of worrying about infertility, a new survey finds.

In fact, 42 percent of women surveyed who had conceived in the past five years said they became obsessed with getting pregnant once they started trying. Only 10 percent of their partners shared this obsession, the women reported.

The survey was conducted for SpermCheck Fertility, a company that sells at-home sperm count tests for men. Surveyors queried a random sample of 300 18- to 44-year-old women drawn from a national list of women who had conceived in the last five years or who were currently trying to get pregnant. The survey was not nationally representative of all women trying to conceive, and men were not questioned, so the survey relied on women's perceptions of their partners' attitudes.

The survey found that 83 percent of women who were trying to conceive said their partner assumes he is fertile. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of women ages 15 to 44 have trouble conceiving or avoiding miscarriage. About one-third of infertility issues are due to women's problems, another third are due to men's, and a final third are a combination of both.

Nonetheless, the survey suggests that women worry about infertility but are uncomfortable discussing it. Of the women trying to conceive, 44 percent were worried they wouldn't be able to because they'd tried for many years to avoid pregnancy. Almost 60 percent said they would avoid telling people they were trying to conceive in case it didn't work out. [7 Surprising Facts About the Pill]

About a quarter (27 percent) of the women surveyed said they would be embarrassed to discuss fertility with friends and family, and 23 percent said their partners were uncomfortable discussing male fertility. Sixty-seven percent of the women said they'd be interested in knowing their partner's sperm count, but only 43 percent thought their partners would want to know.

Sperm count is not the only factor in male infertility. Research published in 2011 found that certain gene mutations may contribute to infertility even in men with high sperm count and motility.

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.