At least one in eight women and one in ten men in Britain have experienced infertility, yet nearly half of them have not sought medical help, finds a research.
The findings showed that the prevalence of infertility was highest among women aged 35-44 years and among men aged 35-54.
More than a third of women who became mothers the age of 35 or older had experienced a period of infertility compared to fewer than one in ten women who had their first child before the age of 25.
Further, the experience of infertility was more common among people with higher socio-economic status, including women who had a university degree and both women and men in managerial, professional or technical employment, compared to people in lower status, routine occupations.
Moreover, women aged 50 or younger who had experienced infertility were more likely to have symptoms of depression and feel dissatisfaction with their sex life than those who had not.These associations were not observed for men, the researchers said.
In addition, those who reported experiencing infertility (defined as unsuccessfully trying to become pregnant for a year or longer), 42.7 per cent of women and 46.8 per cent of men did not seek medical help for the problem.
Those who did seek help were more likely to have higher educational qualifications, better jobs.
“We were surprised that almost half of the people in our study who had experienced infertility had not sought help,” said led researcher Jessica Datta, Lecturer at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Possible reasons for the inequalities between those who did and did not seek help for infertility include not understanding or acknowledging that a problem exists, fear of being labelled infertile, concerns about the cost of treatment, the physical and psychological burden of treatment, or simply not wanting to get pregnant, the researchers suggested.
For the study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, the team examined data from 15,162 women and men aged between 16 and 74 years who participated in Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3) between 2010 and 2012.