Infertility trends among U.S. couples: 1965-1976.

William Mosher

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The proportion of US couples who were surgically sterile rose from 16% in 1965 to 28% in 1976, according to estimates derived from national fertility surveys carried out in those years. However, surgical sterilization for contraceptive reasons more than doubled--from 8% to 19%--leaving the proportions sterilized for noncontraceptive reasons virtually unchanged over the 11 years. The overall increase was greatest among white couples, couples in which the wife was aged 30-44, and those with 3 or more children. In 1976 1/2 of all couples with 3 or more children, and 1/3 of those with 2, were surgically sterile. In 1976, about 2.8 million couples--some 10% of those in which wives were aged 15-44--were classified as infertile. Infertility was higher among blacks than whites in both survey years, and the largest increase in infertility occurred among black couples where the wife was aged 20-24. In almost every race, age and parity group surveyed, the proportion fecund declined considerably between the 2 years, mostly as a result of concomitant increases in surgical sterility. In 1965, 73% of all US couples were capable of childbearing; by 1976, this proportion had dropped to 62%. In 1976, only 42% of couples in which the wife was aged 35-39 and 74% in which the wife was aged 25-29 were capable of conceiving a child. Moreover, only 62% of couples with 2 children were classified as fecund in 1976--a decline of 15 percentage points in 11 years. author's modified

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalFamily Planning Perspectives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1982
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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