Infertile couples are flocking to clinics, joining self-help groups and lobbying Congress for help. But contrary to popular perception, a new study says there is no infertility epidemic.

"The overall rate of infertility didn't change between 1982 and 1988," said William Mosher, a statistician who co-authored the federal report. "This is another chapter in the life story of the baby boom, whose members have affected American society at every stage of their lives."One out of 12 women had an impaired ability to have children in both 1982 and 1988, a steady rate of 8.4 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics report. In 1988 that rate translated into 4.9 million women aged 15 to 44.

The infertility rate for married couples actually fell from 8.5 percent in 1982 to 7.9 percent or 2.3 million couples in 1988.