Fertility Treatment, Use of in Vitro Fertilization, and Time to Live Birth Based on Initial Provider Type

J Am Board Fam Med. 2017 Mar-Apr;30(2):230-238. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2017.02.160184.


Purpose: To explore the relationship between the type of clinician (generalist vs subspecialist) initially seen by infertile women, the treatment received, and the time to pregnancy.

Methods: We analyzed mixed-mode questionnaire data from 867 women with primary infertility enrolled into a retrospective cohort through population- and fertility clinic-based sampling. We compared women presenting first to generalist providers with women presenting first to fertility subspecialists, with the main outcomes of receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF), time to pregnancy, and live birth.

Results: The first contact for most (84%) women with infertility was a generalist provider. Only 8% of women sought care first from a fertility subspecialist, and these women were older and had been trying longer to conceive. Women who presented first to a generalist provider were less likely to receive IVF (adjusted odds ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, 0.28-0.82), were equally likely to achieve pregnancy, and had similar times to pregnancy (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.11; 95% confidence interval, 0.80-1.53) compared with women who presented first to a subspecialist.

Conclusions: Generalist providers are frequently the first point of care for women with difficulty conceiving and are uniquely positioned to promote the balanced management of infertility.

Keywords: Female; Live Birth; Point-of-Care Systems; Pregnancy; Retrospective Studies; Surveys and Questionnaires; Time-to-Pregnancy; Fertilization; Fertilization in Vitro; Infertility.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / statistics & numerical data*
  • General Practitioners
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Live Birth*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time-to-Pregnancy*
  • Treatment Outcome