According to a new survey of fertility awareness, women of reproductive age have many misconceptions about their ability to conceive and how age affects fertility. The survey sponsored by EMD Serono with investigators from RESOLVE, one of the national infertility associations was presented in October at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The survey asked 1000 reproductive age women to answer basic questions about fertility. More than half of the women failed the 10 question survey which tested a womans knowledge of how long it takes to get pregnant and how fertility declines with age. Many women believed that at the age of 40, up to 60% of women could conceive where in reality the numbers are much lower.
In general, medical professionals have failed to educate women on fertility. This is compounded by the fact that many women are waiting longer to conceive because of their educational pursuits and careers. To make matters worse, the reports of older women conceiving, including some high profile celebrities send a potentially erroneous message that fertility doesn’t wane with age. In addition, these reports often do not include information that older women having babies have used advanced reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilization and donor eggs to become pregnant.
Unfortunately, fertility decreases significantly after the age of 35. In general, 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility, which is about 12% of reproductive age women. The incidence of infertility only increases with age. The misconception of prolonged fertility, leads many women to delay child bearing. Because fertility potential does not necessarily correlate with general health, women often feel a false sense of security if they are in good shape, eat well and have no medical issues.
One of the amazing options that women have is to freeze their eggs at a young age in order to preserve their fertility for the future. This way, they can delay childbearing if they are not in a relationship or if they are focusing on their careers. As egg freezing becomes a more established option, it may open up options for many young women. However, physicians taking care of women need to educate their patients on how their own fertility will change as they get older and what they can do to preserve their fertility for the future.
To read more about the fertility survey click here.