Although most people know that fertility declines with age, a new study shows that many young adults don’t have a clear understanding of what age it actually becomes harder to get pregnant.
Researchers in Australia surveyed 1,215 university students with a 34-item online questionnaire regarding their expectations for future parenthood and their fertility knowledge. Of the students surveyed, only 46 percent of women and 38% of men knew that there is a significant decline in women’s fertility between ages 35 to 39. In addition, most of the students surveyed had unrealistic expectations regarding the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. More than one-third of students overestimated the chance of having a child via IVF for women over the age of 40.
In a similar study of students in the United States in 2012, only 24 percent of young American women identified 35 to 39 as the age when fertility begins to decline significantly for women.
Both of these studies highlight the importance of improving fertility education for both women and men. It seems that most young adults want the information, but don’t know where to get it. A 2016 survey of women of childbearing age in the U.S. found that 52 percent of women over age 35 said they would have made different life choices if they had known more about fertility at a younger age.
It’s important to be proactive about fertility education. For young adults, if you know you want to have children in the future, consider talking to your physician about it early on. Fertility preservation options, such as egg freezing, may help you reach your future reproductive goals.