If you struggle with infertility, chances are you will be twice as likely to get treatment for the heartbreaking condition if you are white, college-educated or affluent.
So claims a new study that analyzed data from more than 2,500 women aged 20 to 44 who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2013 and 2016.
Nearly 12.5% of the women — about 1 in 8 — reported infertility. Older age was associated with higher infertility rates, but race/ethnicity, education and income did not appear to be associated with infertility.
However, the study found that certain women were much more likely to get infertility treatment.
More than 80% of infertile women with a college degree or higher sought treatment, while only 33% of those with a high school degree or less did.
More than two-thirds of infertile women with household incomes above $100,000 sought treatment, compared with one-third of women with household incomes of $25,000 or less.
Only 39% of uninsured women with infertility sought treatment, compared with 65% of those with insurance, according to the researchers.
“Our study highlights important unmet infertility needs at a national level,” said senior study author Dr. James Dupree, from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.
“While infertility prevalence is equal among women of varying socioeconomic, education and racial and ethnic backgrounds, our findings suggest several significant disparities among women accessing infertility care,” Dupree said in a university health system news release.
“Infertility is a medical disease and we hope to better understand existing disparities that may hinder care,” added study lead author Dr. Angela Kelley, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Michigan’s Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.
The findings were published June 28 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more on infertility treatments.