Infertility and Treatment Seeking in India: Findings from District Level Household Survey


Childlessness, India, infertility, lifetime infertility, prevalence, socio-economic


Department of Mathematical Demography and Statistics, International Institute for Population Sciences, Deonar,
Mumbai 400088, India.

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Introduction: The purpose of the present paper is to give an estimate of prevalence of infertility and proportion of women seeking treatment for fertility in India by different socio-economic characteristics. An attempt is made to compare lifetime infertility, current infertility and childlessness. Methods: District Level Household Survey is one of the largest cross-section survey covering 643 944 ever married women. In this survey, for the first time, a module on infertility was kept to examine the past and current problem of infertility in India. Results: Estimates of lifetime primary/secondary infertility for currently married women aged 20-49 with at least two years marital duration is found to be 8.8%. Three-fourth of those who reported lifetime problem of infertility suffered from primary infertility. Childlessness and current primary infertility are found as 3.7 and 2.3% respectively among women. On average, the percentage of childless women are found to be 1.4% higher than infertility showing that voluntary childlessness is negligible in India. Childlessness and primary infertility are also estimated removing the subset of population who are currently pregnant or using contraceptive, then the prevalence is found to be 8.9 and 6.4% respectively. Percentage of women seeking treatment for lifetime primary and current primary infertility are around 83%. A higher number of women are now going for allopathic treatment for current infertility problems in comparison to lifetime primary infertility. Although the prevalence of current infertility is 2%, there is huge demand of fertility services in actual number in India.