Public perspectives on placing age limits on men and women seeking fertility treatment

A national sample found that 55% of those surveyed support an upper age limit on both men and women seeking fertility treatments.

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Volume 111, Issue 3, Pages 497–504.e2


Malinda S. Lee, M.D., M.B.A., Leslie V. Farland, Sc.D., Ann M. Thomas, Ph.D., Elizabeth S. Ginsburg, M.D.



To assess public attitudes toward placing age limits on men and women seeking fertility treatment.


Cross-sectional web-based survey.


Not applicable.


A nationally representative sample of 1,427 adults in the United States.


Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Support for placing age limits on people seeking fertility treatment.


Sixty-seven percent of respondents supported placing age limits on women, whereas 57% supported placing age limits on men seeking fertility treatments. Sixty-four percent agreed with current American Society for Reproductive Medicine guidelines that ET should not be undertaken beyond age 55 years. Whereas 55% of respondents supported placing age limits on both men and women, 12% supported age limits on women but not men, and 3% supported age limits on men but not women. Men were more likely to answer discordantly when compared with female respondents. Individuals older than 50 years, who lived in the western United States, or with a personal knowledge of someone who used assisted reproductive technology were more likely to support age limits on both women and men seeking fertility treatments. Sexual minorities, people without biological children, and single, long-term partnered or divorced/widowed respondents were less likely to support age limits on men or women seeking fertility treatments.


Fifty-five percent of respondents in a nationally representative sample support upper age limits on both men and women seeking fertility treatments. Support was associated with various demographic characteristics. Men were more likely than women to support age limits only on women.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.


Go to the profile of Pietro Bortoletto
about 2 years ago

A great public opinion survey . One criticism of these kinds of projects is that participants bring in pretty disparate knowledge to their responses - in this case knowledge re: fecundity and age-related risks of pregnancy. What kind of information did you provide survey takers a-priori to establish general knowledge & understanding of the aforementioned issues?

Go to the profile of Marine Poulain
about 2 years ago

Limiting the maternal and paternal age of patients undergoing infertility treatment is a matter of debate. The maternal age is physiologically limited, except in the case of oocyte donation. For men, the use of ART in cases of severe sperm damage could be discussed beyond a certain age. In any case, it is essential that couples be informed of the increased risk of fingerprint disorders after a certain age.