Women Reproductive Health
January 27, 2014

Study Reveals Just How Much Women Don’t Know About Their Reproductive Health

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A group of researchers from Yale School of Medicine has published a study showing how much - and how little - women of reproductive age know about the science of baby-making. Among the more startling of their observations were that about half of these women had never even discussed reproductive health with their doctors, while almost a third of them visited their reproductive health provider less than once a year or never.

Published in today’s edition of the journal Fertility & Sterility, the study’s results are based on an anonymous online survey conducted in 2013 of 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 40. The women randomized and represented a variety of ethnicities and geographic areas using data from a US census. Included on the survey were questions designed to asses the women’s understanding, attitudes, beliefs and practices relating to sexual activity, pregnancy and core concepts of reproductive health.

According to senior study author Jessica Illuzzi, MD, the study provides valuable insights into what women do and do not know about their own reproductive health, and highlights just how important it is that more healthcare providers engage in dialogue with their patients about these issues.

"This study, on one hand, brings to the forefront gaps in women's knowledge about their reproductive health, and on the other, highlights women's concerns that are often not discussed with health providers," said lluzzi, who is associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. "It is important that these conversations happen in this ever-changing family landscape."

Some of the study’s more notable findings include the following: Roughly 40 percent of reproductive-age women stated they had concerns about their ability to become pregnant. Another half were not aware that multivitamins with folic acid are recommended for reproductive age women in order to help prevent birth defects.

Approximately a quarter of the women were not familiar with the negative effects of sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, smoking or irregular menses on fertility. And about one in five of the women surveyed said they were not aware of the negative effects of aging on a woman’s reproductive success, including increased rates of miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities and general difficulty and increased length of time needed to conceive.

Moreover, the research team also said their survey unveiled some surprising misconceptions regarding how to optimize conception. For instance, half of the participants thought  having sex more than once per day would increase their chances of becoming pregnant. Approximately 30 percent believed certain sexual positions and elevating the pelvis would increase their chances of becoming pregnant. And only about half of the respondents knew sexual intercourse must take place before ovulation rather than after it in order to optimize the chances of conception.

Study co-author Lubna Pal, associate professor of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Yale, noted, "We found that 40% of women in the survey believed that their ovaries continue to produce new eggs during reproductive years. This misperception is of particular concern, especially so in a society where women are increasingly delaying pregnancy."