UBC Study Reveals Significant Gaps in Fertility Knowledge

Many BC residents waiting to conceive will face health and cost challenges as a result

VANCOUVER, March 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - While one in six couples currently struggle with infertility, new research indicates that this may come as a surprise given most people have  a startling lack of knowledge about their own fertility. It also reveals those numbers are likely to rise in the coming years as more women and men delay childbearing - which can lead to costly procedures and complicated births.

Conducted by Dr. Judith Daniluk, Counselling Psychology Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a recent national fertility awareness survey revealed that although most adult men and women know there is a decrease with age in a woman's chances of conceiving naturally, there remains significant knowledge gaps:

  • 51 per cent of women and 66 per cent of men don't realize that a woman's eggs are as old as she is.
  • 91 per cent of women and 92 per cent of men incorrectly believe that until menopause,

in vitro fertilization can help most women to have a baby using their own eggs.

  • 81 per cent of men and 73 per cent of women incorrectly think that for women over 30, overall health and fitness level is a better indicator of fertility than age.
  • Only 41 per cent of men and 43 per cent of women know that a man's age is an important factor in a couple's chances of becoming pregnant.
  • Fewer than half (47 per cent) of men and only 51 per cent of women surveyed know that egg freezing before age 35 can significantly prolong a woman's fertility.

"The findings suggest that many British Columbians may be choosing to delay childbearing, and may face fertility challenges or unintentional childlessness in the future, based in part on inaccurate information." says Dr. Daniluk. "Sadly, having a child may be out of reach for many British Columbians due to a lack of awareness about their own fertility, which is only compounded by a lack of access to treatments due to cost."

According to Statistics Canada, the average age for women to have their first child has risen from 25-29 to 30-34 since 1991, and the birth rate for women in the 40-44 range has doubled between 1988 and 2008. Age is a contributing factor in infertility. Fertility starts declining as early as age 28, while the risk for complicated pregnancy and birth rises considerably. In addition, infertility can strike at any age and many common diseases contribute to infertility, including endometriosis, diabetes, anorexia, obesity, and cancer; and lifestyle choices such as smoking.

As the trend to delay childbearing continues, more British Columbians will need to turn to in vitro fertilization, the clinical best practice to treat infertility, in their efforts to create their families. A recent study by the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada revealed that currently, forty-two percent of British Columbians are unable to proceed with this treatment because of the cost. Without public funding for in vitro fertilization, many more British Columbians will end up childless in the future. "If we believe in the importance of families for all British Columbians, not just those who are economically advantaged, we must publically fund IVF - so all British Columbians struggling with infertility have the opportunity to have children," says Daniluk. "This will make starting a family more accessible for British Columbians in all corners of the province and will ultimately pay health, social and fiscal dividends into the future. But we can't stop there. Fertility education is also critical. Women and men need to have accurate information about the consequences of delayed childbearing and the limitations of assisted reproductive technologies, so that they can make more informed fertility and childbearing decisions."

In an effort to support more informed reproductive decision-making, and with a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Daniluk has created MyFertilityChoices.com to support British Columbians of all ages in making the best possible fertility and childbearing decisions. This online interactive educational strategy represents a novel way to provide accurate and current information and strategies to support more informed childbearing and family planning decision-making. The information on the site may result in some individuals choosing not to delay childbearing. It may also prompt individuals to have their fertility tested, to pursue fertility preservation, and to seek medical advice - thereby reducing the chance of facing infertility and needing in vitro fertilization in the future.

To speak to Dr. Judith Daniluk, Professor of Counseling Psychology and creator of MyFertilityChoices.com, please contact:

Jeremy Twigg

National Fertility Awareness Survey: 3345 currently childless women and 599 men, between the ages of 20 and 50.

About the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada Inc. (IAAC) was founded in 1990 and originated from an Ottawa voluntary group called the Infertility Self Support Group, which began in 1983. IAAC is committed to providing educational material, support and assistance to individuals and couples who are experiencing the anguish of infertility, a reproductive health disease which affects over half a million Canadian men and women. 

SOURCE: Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

For further information:

IAAC website - www.iaac.ca 
IVF4BC website - www.ivf4bc.ca
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ivf4bc/122328164594435
Twitter - https://twitter.com/ivf4bc/ 
MFC Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MyFertilityChoices
MFC Twitter - https://twitter.com/FertilityChoice

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Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

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