Is there evidence of weathering among women seeking fertility treatments?: Evidence and insights

from Social Science & Medicine at on January 26, 2020 at 12:12PM

Publication date: Available online 25 January 2020

Source: Social Science & Medicine

Author(s): Katherine Tierney


Racial disparities in outcomes of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are well-documented, and evidence of racial disparities in other forms of fertility treatments has also been observed. To date, much of the research on these disparities has focused on individual-level causes. This paper contextualizes these disparities using the weathering hypothesis. Using the National Survey of Family Growth and exploratory analyses of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, this study evaluates whether there is evidence of weathering among women of color seeking fertility treatments. The study finds inconsistent evidence of weathering among these groups. However, the study is limited by weaknesses in the available data. The paper demonstrates the promise and limits of the available data to answer empirical questions regarding disparities in fertility treatments that have spurred a national public health action plan and numerous commentaries from scholars and professional organizations. The paper concludes with a discussion of other possible causes of these disparities and a description of next steps needed in the field to better understand both the “under the skin” and social processes that underlie disparities in fertility treatment outcomes.