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Women of Childbearing Age Know Little about Reproduction

Update Date: Jan 27, 2014 09:36 AM EST

Even though all women at childbearing age are aware of the fact that they can create life, some of them continue to remain in the dark in regards to reproductive health. According to a new study conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine, roughly 50 percent of the women who were of reproductive age admitted that they never talk about reproductive health with a medical health professional.

For this study, the researchers examined the data collected from an online survey of 1,000 women who were between the ages of 18 and 40. The survey was administered anonymously in March 2013. The sample set represented women from all ethnic and geographic groups throughout the United States and the survey asked questions regarding women's attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and practices in relation to pregnancy, conception and basic information on reproductive.

The researchers calculated that 40 percent of the women admitted having concerns over their fertility. Over 25 percent of the women did not know the side effects of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), obesity, smoking or irregular menstrual cycle on one's ability to conceive. Around 20 percent of the women did not know the negative consequences of aging on fertility. 50 percent of the sample set did not have any knowledge that taking multivitamins and folic acid is typically recommended in preventing birth defects.

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

The researchers also discovered that 50 percent of the women believed that they would increase their chances of getting pregnant if they had sexual intercourse multiple times a day. Another 33 percent of the females believed that certain sexual positions, such as lifting the pelvis, would increase their chances of conception. Only around 10 percent of the sample knew that intercourse should occur before ovulation to optimize conception rates. 

"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 senior author Jessica Illuzzi, M.D., 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."

The study was published in Fertility & Sterility.

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