Fertility trends and comparisons in a historical cohort of US women with primary infertility

Emily Sadecki, Amy Weaver, Yulian Zhao, Elizabeth A. Stewart, Alessandra J. Ainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is growing interest in long-term outcomes following infertility and infertility treatment. However, there are few detailed longitudinal cohorts available for this work. This study aimed to assemble a historical cohort of women with primary infertility and age-matched controls to evaluate fertility trends, sequelae, and sociodemographic differences. Described here are cohort group characteristics and associated reproductive trends over time. Methods: A population-based historical cohort was created using the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) record-linkage system (Olmsted County, MN). The cohort included women aged 18–50 with a diagnosis of primary infertility between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1999. As part of a case–control study, we identified 1:1 age-matched female controls from the same community and era. Results: A total of 1001 women with primary infertility and 1001 age-matched controls were identified. The women with primary infertility were significantly more likely to be married, college educated, use barrier contraception, and non-smokers compared to age-matched controls. The incidence of primary infertility increased from 14 to 20 per 10,000 person years from 1980–1985 to 1995–1999. Ovulatory dysfunction and unexplained infertility were the most common causes of primary infertility and clomiphene was the most widely used fertility medication. Rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF) increased from 1.8% during 1980–1985 to 26.0% during 1995–1999. Conclusion: Women with primary infertility were found to have unique sociodemographic characteristics compared to age-matched control women, which is consistent with previous research. The incidence of diagnosed primary infertility increased from 1980 to 1999, as did use of IVF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalReproductive Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Epidemiology
  • Fertility
  • Primary infertility
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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