Knowledge gaps regarding fertility prevalent in reproductive age women

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1.  Among reproductive age women, researchers found large knowledge gaps exist regarding reproductive health and conception. 

2. 75% of women reported their women’s health provider as their top source of reproductive health information, yet only 50% had discussed fertility with their provider. 

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)  

Study Rundown: In a large survey of reproductive-age women in the United States, researchers identified gaps in knowledge regarding fertility and reproductive health. While the majority of women considered their women’s healthcare provider their top source of reproductive health information, only half had ever discussed such issues with their provider.

The use of quotas to ensure geographically, economically, and ethnically representative sample of women in the U.S. is a strength. Results are limited by the selection bias inherent in voluntary surveys. Future studies might attempt to reduce selection bias by use of a brief, mandatory questionnaire prior to seeing a doctor in the office or before picking up OCP prescriptions at a pharmacy. While this study highlights knowledge gaps, it does not provide a practical intervention. Next steps include evaluation of various educational tools to address such knowledge gaps.

Click to read the study in Fertility & Sterility

Relevant Reading: Knowledge about infertility risk factors, fertility myths and illusory benefits of healthy habits in young people

In-Depth [cross-sectional survey]: Researchers used an online, anonymous survey of 1,000 women ages 18-40 to assess knowledge and practices regarding conception, fertility, and basic reproductive health. Quotas for geographic region and ethnicity were used to achieve a demographically representative sample of the greater United States population.

Over ¼ of women are unaware of the myriad negative impacts of STDs, obesity, smoking and irregular menstruation. A surprisingly high proportion (40%) of women did not know when ovulation occurred with respect to menstruation and the majority (60%) incorrectly believed that the chance of conception was highest if intercourse occurred after ovulation. Compared to older women, 18-24 year-olds were less likely to know that pre-conception folic acid supplementation prevented birth defects (p<0.001). Seventy-five percent of women relied on women’s health providers for reproductive health information, yet only 50% had ever discussed their reproductive health with a provider.

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