Perceived infertility: An exploration of its origins and implications in a diverse sample of young adults
Awarded 2019
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Summer Martins, PhD, MPH
University of Minnesota

Motivation for contraceptive use hinges on the user’s assumption that they are fertile—capable of conceiving or impregnating. The idea of infertility carries anxiety and stigma for many and, with no way to validate fertility other than attempting pregnancy, may cause people to doubt their reproductive capacity and need for contraception even though they have no express desire for pregnancy. In prior studies, perceived infertility (PI) and fertility concerns are frequently reported among US adolescents and young adults, although measures vary widely and associations with contraceptive use are inconsistent. Additionally, the reasons why young people without clinically diagnosed infertility would have PI are underexplored in the literature, particularly for men and racial/ethnic subgroups. We will conduct eight focus groups using a demographically diverse sample of young adults (18-25) recruited from Planned Parenthood clinics in Minnesota. The study aims are to: (1) Understand young adults’ notions of “fertility” and “infertility” (2) Illuminate the reasons why young people without clinically diagnosed infertility worry about their ability to achieve pregnancy; and (3) Explore the relationship between PI and contraceptive use from young peoples’ perspectives. Study findings will be used to develop comprehensive, valid, and reliable measures of PI and related domains.