Health and Fertility Literacy in the USA Imperfect

Published on November 1, 2017

In 2014, the journal of Fertility & Literacy published a new study entitled, “Knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding conception and fertility: a population-based survey among reproductive-age United States women” (Vol. 101, No. 3).

Researchers found the following key statistics with regards to the state of health and fertility literacy, among others:

  1. “More than two thirds of all participants were unaware that painful menses (e.g., through conditions such as endometriosis) may correlate with a womens ability to conceive; almost one-third were unaware that a history of sexually transmitted infections may adversely affect fertility, and approximately one-quarter were not aware of implications of obesity or menstrual irregularity for fertility.”
  2. “Gaps in knowledge about the ovulatory cycle and conception were also identified. Although 95% of surveyed women correctly defined ovulation as ‘an egg being released from the ovary,’ one-quarter of the sample were unaware that normal menstrual cycles can vary between 25 and 35 days, and 40% did not know that ovulation usually occurs 14 days before menses or that clear mucous vaginal discharge is a sign of impending ovulation…
  3. “Seventy-five percent of the respondents who have or want children (n . 855) reported their womens health provider as the top source of information on optimizing their reproductive health (Fig. 2). Pregnancy-focused Web sites were the second preferred source of information (42%), followed closely by the primary care physician (35%). Parents or family members were recognized more commonly as informative resources by women aged 1824 years…, whereas women aged 2534 and 3540 years were more likely to seek information from medical Web sites.”

The statistics among the population tested demonstrate a concrete, but ultimately low, awareness among American women of key components to their reproductive and general health. FEMM encourages all women to download the FEMM app and take a FEMM class, which provides women with the foundational knowledge they need to manage health and fertility over the duration of their reproductive lives.

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