Where You Live May Play a Role in Fertility

Conception is harder for some couples than others, and according to researchers, those who live in less affluent or economically deprived neighborhoods may have 20% more difficulty. Many studies have shown the effect of one’s neighborhood on births. However, until now, very little research has been done on how one’s living environment or location can impact preconception.

For this study, researchers examined data collected from over 6,300 people ages 21 to 45 over six years. The individuals being studied were actively trying to conceive naturally. Participants gave information on their menstrual cycles as well as their pregnancies, where applicable, every eight weeks for a year. Over 3,700 pregnancies were reported during this time.

This information was cross-referenced with their “area-deprivation index” score, a measurement based on socioeconomic resources in a neighborhood. These scores were reviewed within individual states as well as nationally.

Nationally, the most deprived neighborhoods showed a 19-21% lowered chance of conception compared with communities with more economic resources. The chances of conception were slightly lower on a state level (23-25% reduced chance of conception). While there is an association between these factors, they are not proven to be cause and effect.

This study allowed infertility to be viewed through the lens of a societal, structural problem instead of being made up of individual factors. “The fact that we’re seeing the same results on the national and state level really shows that neighborhood deprivation can influence reproductive health, including fertility.” – Mary Willis, a postdoctoral scholar in Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

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