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Research Article

The epidemiology of infertility in Aberdeen.

BMJ 1990; 301 doi: (Published 21 July 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;301:148
  1. A Templeton,
  2. C Fraser,
  3. B Thompson
  1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill.


    OBJECTIVE--To study the prevalence of infertility, both primary and secondary, outcome of pregnancy, occupation, and uptake of medical services in a total population of women from a geographically defined area. DESIGN--A postal questionnaire survey of an age cohort of women who had completed their fertility, and who were randomly selected from the Grampian Health Board's primary care register. SETTING--Aberdeen city district. SUBJECTS--1024 Women in the age group 46-50, of whom 130 had to be excluded. Of the remaining 894 women, 766 (86%) responded to the questionnaire. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Response to questionnaire on pregnancy history, the length of time taken to become pregnant each time, and whether medical advice had been sought. RESULTS--Among the 766 women contacted, 602 (79%) reported no difficulties in having children, 56 (7%) had chosen not to have children, and the remaining 108 (14%) had experienced infertility, defined as having difficulty in becoming pregnant for more than two years. In total 68 (9%) women had primary infertility, of whom 41 (5%) eventually conceived. Of the 40 (5%) with secondary infertility, 23 (3%) conceived. Overall, 52 (7%) of the population were left with an unresolved problem of infertility. Only 67 (62%) infertile women had made use of hospital services, and a further 8 (7%) had consulted their general practitioners. Among those who conceived there was no difference in the proportion who sought advice compared with those who did not. CONCLUSION--The overall prevalence of infertility was 14%, although half of these women eventually conceived. Primary infertility was more common than secondary infertility. Only 62% of infertile women attended a hospital clinic for treatment of their infertility.