Sociology Index


Fecundity refers to the potential number of children a woman can have. Fertility rate, on the other hand, refers to the actual number of children a woman has. Fecundity is the reproductive capacity; the maximum number of live births calculated to be possible in a given population. Fecundity can also mean the capacity for making productive or fertile.

Superfecundity is the ability to store another organism's sperm after copulation and fertilize its own eggs from that store after a period of time. Superfecundity gives the impression as though fertilization occurred without sperm, called parthenogenesis. The terms fecundity and fertility (and similarly fecundation and fertilization) have commonly been used interchangeably.

Fecundity in the female may be potential (the sum total of ova capable of being produced by the ovary), actual (the ova actually matured and discharged) and observed (the ova of which there is visible evidence, as by the production of eggs or young). The ability to produce offspring is defined by Pearl and Surface as fertility, and in mammals this is the same as observed fecundity. Embryological evidence from a number of forms indicates that, in most if not in all cases, actual fecundity is somewhat greater than the observed.

The discrepancy is probably not so great, however, but what the number of offspring produced make a fair measure of fecundity. - Sarah V. H. Jones and James E. Rouse, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin in The Relation of Age of Dam to Observed Fecundity in Domesticated Animals, I. Multiple births in Cattle and Sheep.

Educational Differences in Impaired Fecundity and the Utilization of Infertility Services
Song, Seung-Eun. and Cho, Youngtae
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association
Abstract: This study examines the association between education and the fecundity status and the use of infertility services among the fecundity-impaired population, based on data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. We find the strong and gradient relationship between education and impaired fecundity status, and that association is even greater with the utilization patterns of infertility care. That is, impaired fecundity is much common among the less educated, while the more educated are much more likely to receive medical care for infertility problems. And, the result shows that educational attainment affects impaired fecundity through altered lifestyles and its effect on income and insurance status which, in turn, determine access to infertility services.

Does malnutrition affect fecundity? A summary of evidence - J Bongaarts
Moderate chronic malnutrition has only a minor effect on fecundity (reproductive capacity), and the resulting effect on fertility (actural reproduction) is very small. Among the fecundity components examined here in noncontracepting populations, age at menarche and the duration of lactational amenorrhea appear to be the ones most affected by malnutrition.