Consultation and treatment behaviour of infertile couples in China: a population-based study

Danni Zheng, Zehong Zhou, Rong Li, Hongping Wu, Suxin Xu, Yuefan Kang, Yunxia Cao, Xiujuan Chen, Yimin Zhu, Shuguang Xu, Zi-Jiang Chen, Ben Willem Mol, Jie Qiao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Research question: The prevalence of infertility in couples actively trying to conceive is 25%. What is the consultation-seeking behaviour, diagnosis and related treatment in infertile couples across China? Design: Large cross-sectional population-based study in 2010–2011, in which 25,270 couples from eight provinces/municipalities in China were approached by a multistage stratified cluster sampling strategy. Results: Among the 2680 couples reporting infertility, 1246 infertile couples consulted a fertility doctor. Age of the couple, man's body mass index and women's educational level were found to be associated with consultation behaviour. After the fertility work-up, diagnoses were tubal infertility (n = 353, 28.3%), unexplained infertility (n = 311, 25.0%), male infertility (n = 234, 18.8%), ovulatory disorder (n = 194, 15.6%) and endometriosis (n = 34, 2.7%), while 8.6% (n = 107) were not classified. Most couples received non-assisted reproductive technology (ART) fertility treatment (n = 906, 89.3%), with a proportion using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) (n = 298, 29.4%). Intrauterine insemination (n = 62, 6.1%) and IVF/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (n = 57, 5.6%) were less frequent. Medical treatment and outcomes among five subtypes of infertility were also reported: about 30% of couples with unexplained infertility (n = 94, 30.3%) or male infertility (n = 67, 29.0%) used TCM to treat infertility. Apart from patients with endometriosis, of whom 20.6% (n = 7) received ART, patients with other infertility subtypes rarely received ART. For subsequent fertility outcome, 94% of them did not achieve a pregnancy. Conclusion: The prevalence of infertility in China is high, but the uptake of treatment is relatively low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-925
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Biomedicine Online
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Consultation-seeking behaviour
  • Diagnosis
  • Infertility
  • Treatment


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