Fertility and aging: do reproductive-aged Canadian women know what they need to know?

Fertil Steril. 2010 May 1;93(7):2162-8. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.01.064. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


Objective: Female fertility declines with age; however, women are increasingly delaying childbearing until later in their reproductive years. One of the factors that may contribute to this trend is a general lack of knowledge about the decline in fertility with age.

Design: Self-report survey. Questions pertained to participant demographics and childbearing intentions, and knowledge of the decline in fertility and increased risk of pregnancy loss with age.

Setting: The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Patients: Female undergraduate students (N = 360).

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): Knowledge of fertility over the life span, predictors of age of intended childbearing.

Result(s): Although most women were aware that fertility declines with age, they significantly overestimated the chance of pregnancy at all ages and were not conscious of the steep rate of fertility decline. Surprisingly, women overestimated the chance of pregnancy loss at all ages, but did not generally identify a woman's age as the strongest risk factor for miscarriage.

Conclusion(s): Education regarding the rate at which reproductive capacity declines with age is necessary to avoid unintended childlessness among female academics and professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Canada
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health
  • Young Adult