Help-Seeking Patterns among Subfecund Women

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Greil, Arthur L.; McQuillan, Julia
article description
A random sample of women in the midwestern United States was studied in order to provide a fuller picture of the ways in which US women responded to subfecundity. Using a biomedical definition of infertility, we examined women who did not conceive within 12 months of unprotected intercourse whether they were trying to get pregnant or not. Of the 196 ever-subfecund women in our sample, 123 experienced subfecundity while trying to get pregnant; we called these “subfecund with intent.” Another 73 women experienced subfecundity while not actively trying to get pregnant; we called these “subfecund without intent.” Of the 196 subfecund women, 39% reported having sought treatment. Treatment-seekers had clearer intentions to get pregnant, were more likely to seek infertility information on their own, and were more likely to self-define as having fertility problems. Those with more income, more education and lower internal locus of control were more likely to seek medical help. Among the subfecund with intent who pursued medical help, about a fourth had received treatment. The few women who had sought spiritual counseling or non-conventional help often combined these actions with medical help-seeking. This study supported the conclusion that common-sense understandings among subfecund women play an important role in help-seeking behavior. From a practical point of view, there is a large unmet need for infertility services and infertility counseling in the United States.