Objective: It has been a long held belief that increased contraceptive use is primarily responsible for lowered fertility in Jamaica since the 1970s. However, historically, subfecundity has played a major role in suppressing fertility rates. In order to reveal the prevalence and trend in fertility impairment, a study was conducted using data from the 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2002 reproductive health surveys.
Methods: Bivariate analysis was used to highlight women’s lack of childbearing in the five-year period prior to the survey, and the reasons they provide for their inability to become pregnant. Using the impairment typology of Chandra and Stephen (1998), cross-tabulations were used to present the sociodemographic background of women determined to experience fertility impairment.
Results: The data reveal that 28 per cent of sexually experienced women aged 15−49 years in 1989 and 31 per cent in 2002 reported some form of fecundity impairment. Impairment is largely due to subfecundity resulting from miscarriage or abortion, rather than failure to conceive. Women with impairment were predominantly found in married and common-law unions, were mothers, were 30 years or older, had experienced fetal loss, were working, and did not want an additional child.
Conclusion: As childbearing and increasing age raise the prevalence of impairment, many women are unlikely to meet their family building goals. We therefore recommend that health screening for conditions related to infertility be introduced.