Pregnancy, birth and reproductive health: we need more information

Ovulation, folic acid, sexually transmitted diseases. How many women are truly knowledgeable when it comes to reproductive health? Unfortunately, it seems too few. To understand the situation better, a study done by the Yale School of Medicine, published in Fertility and Sterility, revealed that many women’s knowledge in this area is still very low. The data revealed that nearly 50% of American women of childbearing age had never talked about their own reproductive health with a medical professional and that around 30% had visited a doctor less than once a year.

This data was acquired by researchers based on anonymous online interviews taken in March of 2013 by one thousand women between the ages of 18 and 40. The survey included questions to evaluate knowledge and practices related to conception, pregnancy and basic concepts of reproductive health. “This study, on the one hand, shed light on the lack of knowledge of many women about their reproductive health, and on the other hand, it revealed the worries that women often don’t discuss with medical professionals,” explained the paper’s author, Jessica Illuzi. The survey had some alarming results. For example, half of the women interviewed were not aware of rather basic information, such as folic acid being recommended for women of childbearing age to prevent the diagnosis of congenital defects. In addition, more than 25% of the women did not know about the damaging effects to fertility caused by STDs, obesity, smoking and irregular menstrual cycles.

Moreover, a fifth of the women did not know that aging has a negative influence on successfully reproducing, as it leads to higher rates of miscarriage, chromosome anomalies and an increase in the time required to conceive. The study also found that more than a third of the women thought that having sex in a certain position raised the chance of conceiving. Lastly, only 10% of the women were aware that having intercourse before, and not after, ovulation gives a higher probability of becoming pregnant. “We discovered that 40% of the women surveyed believed that the ovaries continue to produce new eggs throughout the entire reproductive years,” concluded the co-author, Lubna Pal. “The incorrect information is particularly worrying, especially in a society in which women are waiting longer and longer to become pregnant.”

HFTHQ 20-14