BACKGROUND: In Australia, fertility treatment is partly or wholly reimbursable under federal benefits schemes, without restrictions on age, number of treatment cycles or existing family size. In this study, we aimed to characterize the potential need for and use of fertility treatments in a population-based cohort of young Australian women.
METHODS: We conducted structured interviews with 974 members of a cohort constructed by tracing all female infants born at a single general hospital in Adelaide between 1973 and 1975. The main outcome measures were pregnancy history, difficulty becoming pregnant and assistance sought to become pregnant.
RESULTS: Of 657 women aged 3032 who had sought pregnancy, 24 reported difficulty becoming pregnant and 26 had lost at least one pregnancy. Ovulatory problems (16) and male fertility problems (13) were common among those with difficulty. Over half of the women who had difficulty conceiving (58) sought assistance, largely from specialists (53). Consultations, tests and education only were common (22), as were IVF/ICSI (17). Close to a third (28) of those seeking assistance were treated only with clomiphene, as were two-thirds (67) of women with ovulatory problems.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, almost a quarter of women in their early 30s reported difficulty conceiving, and over a quarter reported pregnancy loss. This suggests that a significant proportion of young women experience substantial difficulties becoming pregnant. Our findings highlight the need to continue to document the range of womens reproductive experiences and to monitor fertility and treatment-seeking trends.