Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Infertile or childless by choice? A multipractice survey of women aged 35 and 50.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 28 March 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:804
  1. G Johnson,
  2. D Roberts,
  3. R Brown,
  4. E Cox,
  5. Z Evershed,
  6. P Goutam,
  7. P Hassan,
  8. R Robinson,
  9. A Sahdev,
  10. K Swan


    Eleven general practitioners examined the medical records of all women on their lists born in 1950 (617 patients) and 1935 (533 patients) to determine the prevalence of childlessness and specialist consultations about infertility. Eighty eight (14.3%) of the women born in 1950 and 41 (7.7%) of those born in 1935 were childless. Sixty eight women born in 1950 (11.0%) and 17 born in 1935 (3.2%) were considered childless by choice. Involuntary childlessness was found in 20 (3.3%) of the women born in 1950 and 24 (4.5%) born in 1935. Forty two (6.8%) of the women born in 1950 had consulted a specialist about infertility as compared with 19 (3.6%) born in 1935. This study found a significant increase in voluntary childlessness among the younger women; there was no evidence of a change in the prevalence of involuntary childlessness despite the increasing demand for specialist referral, which appeared to be made by women who were parous or destined to become so.