At Modern Fertility, we believe in putting the power of fertility knowledge directly into the hands of women–early.
That’s why we teamed up with Glamour for this year’s Infertility Awareness Week to launch our inaugural new report, The Modern State of Fertility. We surveyed hundreds of women to understand common misconceptions, how stigmas prevail, and how our outlooks are shifting. The goal is to get a baseline of what we know, and learn more about fertility science together.
“Knowledge is power” may sound cliché, but it is true. When it comes to correcting inequities, whether it be equal pay or precision medicine for women, information is the important first step."
Women are using personalized tools for managing their finances, careers, education and hobbies, but when it comes to our reproductive health, it often feels like a black box. Cultural norms, legacy healthcare costs, traditional sex ed, and even the media have implied that women should just “wait and see” when it comes to fertility.” Meanwhile, women are choosing to have kids later and later as we prioritize other key parts of our lives. For the first time ever, more women in their thirties are having kids than women in their twenties. We deserve choices and opportunities. Without knowing how our modern lives might impact our fertility, however, we end up with a real problem: 1:6 couples currently struggle to conceive. We need to break this cycle—and information is the important first step.
Now, let’s dig in! We surveyed 350 women (thank you for your time, participants!) and saw five key themes emerge:
1) Women today see fertility as a woman’s problem, even though it actually impacts women and men equally. This stat sums it up: 86% of women understand that female fertility significantly declines between the ages of 35 and 39, but only 28% understand that a man’s age is also an important factor in a couple’s changes of becoming pregnant. While male fertility does decline later in life (around 45-49), the fertility hormones of both sexes are equally important when trying to conceive.
2) There are still significant misunderstandings about the role of age in fertility. One stat really stuck with me: 77% of women do not know that when a woman is 35 years or older, her age is a better indicator of her fertility than her overall health. This reminded me of a paper I read at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which looked at how fertility was covered in a variety of pop culture and women’s publications over a four year period. Fertility was highlighted on nearly one third of magazine covers, but the link between age and fertility was downplayed, and assisted reproductive technologies barely got any mentions. The authors concluded that our culture glamorizes pregnancy at advanced ages without educating the public about risks or assistance these women likely sought along the way.
3) IVF: it’s not so straightforward. There’s a lot of ambiguity around IVF, largely because it’s one of the more secretive areas of fertility care. Almost 90% of women didn’t know that when a woman tries to have a baby using her own eggs with IVF, the majority of treatments are unsuccessful. This is result from a number of variables: egg quality, age and health, for example.
4) It’s 2019–women are ready to take action. The data shows what we’ve always known: when women are given the tools and resources they deserve, they have no problem taking charge. Research shows that not only are women hungry for more information, 87% of them would consider adjusting their timelines if they found out that they had fewer eggs than average for their age. It’s important to note that a lower egg count does not mean that women will necessarily have issues getting pregnant (you only need one healthy egg to conceive!), but it is one telling piece of data about your broader fertility curve.
As a women’s health company focused on education, we believe it’s critical that women have access to personalized fertility data, so they can truly own the decisions impacting their bodies and future. But we also want to advance fertility research. Surveys like this, as well as research within the Modern Fertility experience––where women can consent to having their results analyzed in anonymized research, allow our clinical team and medical advisory board to help move fertility science forward. With the help of women, we can develop better predictors of future fertility and precise educational resources for every woman.
Methodology: This study was conducted as a cross-sectional survey to discover what women currently understand about fertility. A cross-sectional survey means that we gathered the data at a single point in time and did not attempt to change or alter their beliefs in any way when gathering the data. This research was conducted by Modern Fertility’s research team in collaboration with Glamour’s editors, and was approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), ensuring the highest ethical standards for human research.