Infertility, defined as a disease of the reproductive system touches 15% of couples. In recent years many studies of general understanding of fertility, infertility and MAR have found significant gaps in knowledge regarding reproductive health within their target populations.
In north Queensland was undertook a study to identify possible gaps in knowledge that might influence family planning in this particular regional and rural population.
A total of 120 women with an overall mean age of 22.8 years old, were recruited and included. There were four groups that included 30 persons each. The first group were nurses at Cairns Hospital, the second teachers, the third university students, and the last Technical and Further Education (TAFE) students. All participants were of reproductive age younger than 35 years old, who haven't been pregnant before, and had no prior history of fertility-related health care.
The data were collected via the distribution of a piloted structured questionnaire. Participants were asked to answer a series of questions relating to their own family plans, knowledge of natural fertility, infertility and MAR, and how information regarding these topics is best accessed.
Results demonstrated significant gaps in knowledge about natural fertility. Only 42 participants which means 25%, were able to indicate when during the 28-day menstrual cycle successful conception would most likely occur.
Overall, 12.5% of the participants correctly identified human fecundability rates of a healthy couple in their 20s, with most overestimating their chances. However, all respondents identified that the fertility
rate would drop for a couple aged over 35 years. Twenty-three women underestimated the percentage of couples who achieve pregnancy within six months of trying. 58.3% of respondents were aware that a
woman’s peak of fertility was between 21 and 25 years, and 15% were aware that the average age of women having their first child had risen to the early 30s.
One-hundred-and-thirteen participants, 94.2% believed that female fertility declined with age, and 92.5% were aware of the additional risks linked to pregnancies in women over 35 years. However, only 52.5% recognized the impact that age has on the fertility of men.
41.7% of women were able to define infertility and 61.7% of participants discerned that infertility affects one in six couples, but less were aware of whether male or female-related causes of infertility were more common. 20% of participants could not name any options of MAR provided in Australia, while from the 80% who responded, in vitro fertilization was the most common (90.6%), and in many cases, the only response.
The study demonstrated significant gaps of the knowledge from North Queensland’s women regarding natural fertility, infertility, and the role of MAR. The recommendation is that topics of fertility, infertility and MAR to be integrated into the secondary school sexual health education program to encourage early and open discussion.