Suffering in silence: Graduate student infertility

J Am Coll Health. 2022 Nov-Dec;70(8):2295-2302. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1851233. Epub 2020 Dec 15.


While fertility is a widely studied public health issue, infertility among college students is rarely examined. Research on fertility among college students focuses primarily on pregnancy prevention. Often constructed as hyper-fertile, cohorts of women in graduate studies are struggling with fertility issues and left to suffer in silence. Objective: This study aimed to identify barriers to access and gaps in available reproductive services to college attending women. Methods: This multi-method, exploratory study employed online surveys (n = 37), semi-structured interviews (n = 5), and an assessment of fertility-related school health services available at universities nationally to understand issues related to infertility, including experience with and access to services. Results: A near absence of fertility-related care on college campuses emerged nationally, while a clear need among female graduate students emerged locally. Perceptions of poor treatment and dismissal of concerns were prominent issues. Conclusions: Findings suggest the need for self-advocacy, while highlighting the potential role of university and community supports for women suffering from the dual burden of being a student while struggling with fertility related issues.

Keywords: College-attending women; fertility; graduate student; infertility; reproductive health.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Infertility* / therapy
  • Students*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities