Systematic review of racial and ethnic disparities in reproductive endocrinology and infertility: where do we stand today?

Systematic Review

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 3, P169-188, JULY 01, 2021


Tia Jackson-Bey, M.D., M.P.H., Jerrine Morris, M.D., M.P.H., Elizabeth Jasper, Ph.D., Digna R. Velez Edwards, Ph.D., M.S., Kim Thornton, M.D., Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., Torie Comeaux Plowden, M.D., M.P.H. 



To conduct a comprehensive review of racial and ethnic health disparities in infertility care and treatment.

Evidence Review

Systematic literature searches were performed in PubMed and Embase from inception to April 2021. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they were original research performed in humans, observational study design, focused on circumstances contributing to infertility, access to infertility care, or outcomes of infertility treatment, and provided relevant information on racial or ethnic groups. Titles and abstracts were reviewed independently by two reviewers to identify pertinent articles. In addition, references of included articles were screened.


The PubMed search yielded 2,113 articles. An additional 2,301 articles were found in the Embase search. In total, 4,414 articles were screened on the basis of title and, where necessary, abstract. Thirty-four were found to meet the inclusion criteria and included in this review. Three additional studies were found from searching references of the included articles, resulting in 37 articles for discussion: 26 retrospective cohort studies, 2 prospective cohort studies, and 9 cross-sectional studies. The overall consensus in the literature is that reproductive health disparities on the basis of race and ethnicity impact fertility, access to care, and fertility treatment outcomes.


Racial and ethnic differences in access to full-spectrum reproductive care, including infertility evaluation and treatment, remain. Despite access to infertility treatment, disparate treatment outcomes persist. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as the institutionalization of racism and discrimination within medicine, remain influential in the diagnosis, care, and treatment outcomes of individuals with infertility. To address these inequities, we should mitigate provider bias, fund high-quality health disparity research, improve patient reproductive health knowledge, and advocate for increased access to treatment for all.