Can men be trusted in population-based surveys to report couples' medical care for infertility?

Men are usually excluded from surveys on reproductive health as some works have cast doubts on their ability to accurately report information on reproduction. Recent papers challenged this viewpoint, arguing that the quality of men's reports depends strongly on use of an appropriate study design. We aimed to explore the relevance of evaluating couples' use of medical care for infertility based on men's interviews in a population-based survey.

The study was based on the last French sexual and reproductive health study (Fecond) conducted by phone interviews among a population-based sample of 2863 men and 4629 women aged 20-49 years.

Among respondents who had ever tried to have a child, the use of infertility medical care by couples (i.e. by the respondents and/or their partners) within the previous 15 years was 16% (95%CI 14 to 18%) based on men's reports and 17% (95%CI 15 to 18%) based on women's reports (p = 0.43). Men's and women's reports were remarkably concordant on most items (infertility duration, treatment). The main discrepancy concerned male medical checkup, which was reported much more often by male respondents than female respondents (86% vs. 57%, p < 0.001 for sperm analysis, 56% vs. 27%, p < 0.001 for male genital examination).

It is time to trust men to report couples' infertility medical care in reproductive surveys, as they provide information remarkably concordant with that provided by women. Conversely, women may poorly report the infertility checkups of their male partner.

BMC medical research methodology. 2018 Oct 19*** epublish ***

Soraya Belgherbi, Elise de La Rochebrochard

Université Paris-Saclay, Univ. Paris-Sud, UVSQ, CESP, INSERM, Kremlin-Bicêtre, France., Université Paris-Saclay, Univ. Paris-Sud, UVSQ, CESP, INSERM, Kremlin-Bicêtre, France. .

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