84. Larsen U

Larsen U. Primary and secondary infertility in sub-Saharan Africa. Int J Epidemol 2000; 29:285-91.

No previous study has provided national estimates of the prevalence of primary and secondary infertility in sizeable areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Primary infertility is measured by the proportion childless among women who entered their first marriage at least 7 years before date of censoring. Secondary infertility is measured by the 'subsequently infertile estimator' from parous ever-married women. Exposure begins at the age of the woman at the birth of her first child, and exposure ends when the woman is of an age, which is 5 years lower than her age at censoring. These last 5 years are used to determine her status as infertile or fertile at the last observation 5 years before censoring. A woman is considered infertile at last observation if she has had no livebirths during the last 5 years before censoring, otherwise she is considered fertile. A woman who has not given birth at age a or later is defined as being 'infertile subsequent to age a'. The index of the proportion subsequently infertile at age a is estimated as the number of women infertile subsequent to age a, divided by the total number of women observed at that age. Infertility is estimated for women age 20-44.

Primary infertility is relatively low and it exceeds 3% in less than a third of the 28 African countries analysed. In contrast, elevated levels of secondary infertility prevail in most countries. Secondary infertility for women age 20-44 ranges from 5% in Togo to 23% in Central African Republic.

It is feasible to gauge national levels of primary and secondary infertility from population based surveys including a birth history. The prevalence of infertility of pathological origin is so high in sub-Saharan Africa that infertility is not merely an individual concern, it is a public health problem.