Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, December 14, 2012

Older women overestimate their fertility

Girls take sex education classes in K-12 schools, and they learn how to have sexually active lives, but they do not learn some facts that become important later. A new study reports:
Nearly half of women who became pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) after age 40 say they were "shocked" to discover they needed fertility treatments, a new study finds.

In the study, the researchers at the University of California, San Francisco interviewed women from 61 families — including heterosexual couples, lesbian couples and single women — who conceived and delivered children via IVF after age 40. The interviews were done between 2009 and 2011.

"We found that women did not have a clear understanding of the age at which fertility begins to decline," the researchers wrote in their study, published online Nov. 30 in the journal Human Reproduction.

Most women thought their fertility would last longer than it did. For instance, 31 percent said they expected to get pregnant without difficulty at age 40.
"Very few participants had considered the possibility that they would need IVF, and 44 percent reported being ‘shocked’ and ‘alarmed’ to discover that their understandings of the rapidity of age-related reproductive decline were inaccurate," the researchers wrote. ...

One in five women now has her first child after age 35, an eightfold increase compared with a generation ago.

When the researchers probed into why the study participants held mistaken beliefs about fertility, 28 percent said that incorrect information from friends, doctors or the media reinforced the idea that older women could easily become pregnant. For example, a 42-year-old woman recalled thinking, "Everyone’s having babies at 42 … all the superstars are having them," according to the study.

About a quarter of participants said their beliefs stemmed from messages about preventing pregnancy they had received since adolescence. One woman wrote, "It’s like, all of our lives we’re terrified we’re going to get pregnant too soon and have a child and ruin our lives … and, actually, it’s not that easy."

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