Modern State of Fertility 2019

Welcome to the inaugural Modern State of Fertility, the survey where hundreds of women share what they know, what they wish they knew, and how their outlook on fertility is shifting. Modern Fertility, a women’s health company offering a fertility hormone test you can take at home, and Glamour, teamed up on this report to push fertility research forward for Infertility Awareness Week. It’s time we understood the information—and the gaps—so we Modern women can be our own best health advocates.

Our top takeaways
woman

It takes two to tango—but women feel they’re the only ones bearing the burden

86%

86% of women understand that female fertility significantly declines between the ages of 35 and 39.

28%

28% are aware that a man’s age is also an important factor in a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant.

90%

90% of women know that weight can affect a woman’s fertility.

53%

53% are aware it also impacts a man’s fertility.

59%

59% of women think that women who are infertile are unfairly treated.

21%

21% of women think that men who are infertile are unfairly treated.

Even age, one of the most commonly used indicators of fertility, is still misunderstood

77%

77% of women do not know that when a woman is 35+, her age is a better indicator of her fertility than her overall health.

56%

56% of women don’t know that C-sections are more common when a woman is 35+.

2%

Only 2% of women have a comprehensive understanding how fertility declines with age for both women and men.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF): it's not so straightforward

88%

88% of women are not aware that C-sections are more common after a woman undergoes IVF treatment.

77%

77% of women are not aware that the risk of delivering a baby preterm is higher after IVF.

89%

89% of women were not aware that more than half of IVF cycles are unsuccessful when women try to use their own eggs. (Source: SART 2017)

It’s 2019. We need more than “just wait and see.” We need education.

71%

71% of women want to know more about the factors that decrease a person's fertility.

77%

77% wish they knew more about how a woman's hormones impact her fertility.

87%

87% of women would alter their life plan if they found out that they had fewer eggs than average for their age.

“I had twins with the help of IVF. When people talk to me about them and ask questions, I openly tell them how they were conceived. If they are judging me for it, then I haven’t noticed because frankly I don’t care.”

Extended survey results

Let’s get the information straight and uncover what women are thinking and feeling about fertility treatments, stigmas, information sources, and more.

General Fertility Knowledge

Insight: 1 in 6 heterosexual couples are infertile.

61%
39%

answered this correctly

Age knowledge

woman

Today, 2% of women have a comprehensive understanding of age’s impact on fertility (meaning, they scored 100%), and 47% answered correctly to about half of the survey questions about age.

Insight: Female fertility significantly declines between the ages of 35 and 39.

86%
14%

answered this correctly

Male fertility significantly declines between the ages of 45 and 49.

62%
38%

answered this correctly

Insight: After age 35, a woman is more likely to have medical problems during pregnancy.

90%
10%

answered this correctly

Insight: Women who are transitioning into menopause have a lower chance of becoming pregnant.

57%
43%

answered this correctly

Insight: After age 35, a woman is more likely to have medical problems during pregnancy.

86%
14%

answered this correctly

Insight: When a woman is over 35 years old, cesarean section (C-section) is more common.

56%
44%

answered this correctly

Insight: When a woman is over 35 years old, age is a better indicator of fertility than overall health.

77%
23%

answered this correctly

Insight: When a man is over 45 years old, there is a significant decline in the ability to impregnate his partner.

71%
29%

answered this correctly

Insight: A man's age is an important factor in a couple's chances of becoming pregnant.

72%
28%

answered this correctly

Hormones knowledge

Today, 57% of women have a comprehensive understanding of how hormones impact fertility.

Insight: A woman's hormone levels provide information about her fertility.

82%
18%

answered this correctly

Insight: The number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries decreases from birth to puberty.

80%
20%

answered this correctly

Insight: Taking oral contraceptive pills does not "save" eggs.

86%
14%

answered this correctly

Risk Factors knowledge

Today, 57% of women have a comprehensive understanding of how hormones impact fertility.

Insight: Smoking has an impact on a woman's fertility.

96%
4%

answered this correctly

Insight: Smoking cigarettes or marijuana can reduce the quality of a man's sperm.

87%
13%

answered this correctly

Insight: A woman's weight affects her chances of conceiving.

90%
10%

answered this correctly

Insight: A man's weight impacts his likelihood of impregnating his partner.

53%
47%

answered this correctly

Insight: People who have had a sexually transmitted infection have an increased risk of reduced fertility.

73%
27%

answered this correctly

Insight: Having an abortion does not reduce a woman's future fertility.

63%
37%

answered this correctly

Insight: Taking hormonal birth control (for example, pill, patch, IUD) for more than five years does not reduce a woman's fertility.

58%
42%

answered this correctly

Hormone Blood Tests Knowledge

Only 8% of women have a comprehensive understanding of the importance of hormone blood tests for understanding fertility.

Insight: Hormone blood tests can be used to estimate the number of eggs a woman has in her ovaries.

59%
41%

answered this correctly

Insight: Hormone blood tests can be used to understand potential outcomes for egg-freezing and in-vitro fertilization.

54%
46%

answered this correctly

Insight: Hormone blood tests can detect if a woman has ovulated (meaning her ovaries have released an egg that month).

51%
49%

answered this correctly

Insight: Hormone blood tests can be used to estimate when a woman will reach menopause.

70%
30%

answered this correctly

fruit

Fertility Treatments Knowledge

Only 0.9% of women have a comprehensive understanding of IVF fertility treatments.

Insight: Most women or couples not are able to get pregnant after one IVF treatment.

79%
21%

answered this correctly

Insight: The total cost of one cycle of IVF treatment is more than $5,000 USD.

84%
16%

answered this correctly

Insight: C-sections are more common after a woman undergoes IVF.

12%
88%

answered this correctly

Insight: the risk of delivering a baby preterm is higher after IVF.

77%
23%

answered this correctly

Insight: more than half of IVF cycles are unsuccessful when women try to use their own eggs. (Source: SART 2017)

89%
11%

answered this correctly

“People who know little about my situation sometimes feel the need to tell me EXACTLY what to do about it. It is hard enough to be infertile without that unsolicited advice.”

flower
Information Discrepency

If knowledge is power, then women are ready for it. (But we knew that).

Women want more information, particularly about factors that decrease a person’s fertility, how their hormones impact their fertility, and hormone blood tests for women.

71%

71% of women wish they knew more about factors that decrease a person's fertility.

77%

77% of women wish they knew more about how a woman's hormones impact her fertility.

75%

75% of women wish they knew more about hormone blood tests for women.

66%

66% of women wish they knew more about how a man's sperm impacts his fertility.

52%

52% of women wish they knew more about fertility preservation (for example, egg freezing).

Information Channels

More women would like to receive fertility information from a specialist, but the numbers don’t add up: there are only about 2,000 reproductive endocrinologists (fertility specialists) nationwide.

Today, most women currently receive their information about fertility from a general healthcare provider and health-focused websites.

60%

General healthcare provider

47%

Health-focused websites

29%

Specialist healthcare provider

27%

Online newspapers

25%

Friends/colleagues

14%

Other print materials

13%

Other family members

12%

Other Internet sources

11%

Social media

10%

Academic journal articles

5%

Television

4%

Romantic partner/spouse

2%

Other

fertility eggs
Emotions

Feeling interested, anxious and stressed about your fertility? Turns out, you’re not alone.

    66% Interested
    60% Anxious
    54% Stressed
    54% Uncertain
    46% Hopeful
    45% Afraid
    39% Excited
    33% Joyful
    29% Empowered
    22% Guilty
    14% Ashamed

“Most people assume I don't want to have children and have considered me selfish. We are currently going through round 3 of IVF.”

Insurance and Fertility

Women think it is important for their insurance to cover annual fertility testing and infertility treatments.

The majority of women would choose an employer that provides these benefits over one that does not.

Companies prioritizing talent (all companies), take note!

78%

78% of women think it is important to them that insurance covers the cost of fertility treatments.

77%

77% wish they knew more about how a woman's hormones impact her fertility.

55%

55% of women would choose an employer that provides insurance benefits for annual fertility testing over an employer that did not.

59%

59% would choose an employer that provides insurance benefits for fertility treatments (for example, IVF) over an employer that does not.

Infertility Stigma

Fertility stigmas prevail. Women believe that stigmas associated with fertility are worse for them than they are for men, except for when it comes to looking after children.

40%

40% of women think that most people will think less of a woman who is infertile.

24%

But only 24% think most people will think less of a man who is infertile.

30%

30% of women think that most people think that infertile women have character flaws.

13%

But only 13% think that most people think that infertile men have character flaws.

43%

43% think that most people feel that being infertile is a sign of a woman's personal failure.

24%

But only 24% think that most people think that being infertile is a sign of a man's personal failure.

56%

56% think that most people would not want their children to marry a woman who is infertile.

51%

And 51% think that most people would not want their children to marry a man who is infertile.

44%

44% think that most people would be reluctant to date a woman who is infertile.

45%

And 45% think that most people would be reluctant to date a man who is infertile.

24%

24% think that most people will take an infertile woman's opinions less seriously.

13%

And 13% think that people will take an infertile man's opinions less seriously.

31%

31% think that being a family member of a woman who is infertile carries a social stigma.

17%

And 17% think that being a family member of a man who is infertile carries a social stigma.

7%

7% think that most people would not hire an infertile woman to take care of their children.

38%

But 38% think that most people would not hire an infertile man to take care of their children.

45%

45% of women who have had infertility problems think that stereotypes about infertility have affected them personally.

“Most were asking why we didn't have children yet, or saying I better have a baby soon before I'm too old. Maybe if I had shared what I was going through, it would have made the situation more bearable.”

Home Fertility Tests

While stigmas reflect long-held negative sentiments, women generally have positive attitudes and perceptions when it comes to innovations in fertility care testing and treatment options.

80%

80% think a home fertility test is a good idea.

84%

84% think a home fertility test would be useful.

60%

60% trust that a home fertility test would keep their health information secure.

65%

65% think an online consultation with a fertility specialist is a good idea.

54%

54% trust that an online consultation with a fertility specialist would keep health information secure.

51%

51% would have an online consultation with a fertility specialist.

“I had a guy come to our five bedroom house with a basketball court to look at a bee problem we were having. He had his young son along, who immediately and repeatedly asked where our kids were and why I didn’t have any. The bee guy was clearly embarrassed.”

Intent to Take Action

Give women information impacting their bodies and futures, and more often than not, they’ll take charge and make changes.

If women knew that they had fewer eggs than average for their age, what would they do?

72%

72% would want to talk to my healthcare provider about what this means for them

70%

70% would want to talk to a fertility specialist about what this means for them

63%

63% would consider egg-freezing

51%

51% would have children earlier than planned

37%

37% would consider embryo freezing

43%

43% would consider adoption

13%

Only 13% would not alter their life plan

Methodology

This research was conducted by Modern Fertility’s research team and was approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), ensuring the highest ethical standards for human research. 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.

So, what can - and can’t - this type of study tell us? A cross-sectional survey is a great way to learn about the number of women who hold certain beliefs and uncover the correlational relationships between those beliefs. This type of study can’t tell us anything about causation.

Importantly, we wanted to make sure we conducted this study in the most accurate and scientifically sound way possible. Modern Fertility’s research team, comprised of PhD researchers and fertility and reproductive medical specialists, is committed to using the highest standards in academic research. We obtained Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of our study protocol, which ensures we met ethical standards in human research. We also used reliable and validated measures and statistical analyses.

Demographics

The women ranged in age from 18 to 59 (M = 34.11, SD = 6.64).

The majority of the women indicated that they are hetersexual/straight (95.1%); 4.6% indicated they are bi-sexual, and 0.3% indicated they are gay/lesbian.

Approximately 1/3 of the women (33%) indicated they had infertility problems.

Geographic Region

Northeast 19.0%
South 30.9%
Midwest 18.3%
West 29.7%
Pacific 0%
Did not indicate 1.5%

Education

Less than high school 0.3%
High school graduate 1.8%
Some college 11.9%
2 year degree 4.3%
4 year degree 41.6%
Attended and/or completed graduate school 40.1%

Racial/Ethnic Background

Note: could select more than one

American Indian or Alaskan 0.6%
Asian 5.5%
Black or African American 8.6%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.9%
White 75.84%
Hispanic or Latino 13.46%
Other 1.8%
Prefer not to say 0.9%