Video: Scarce fertility awareness for young people

Video transcript

Feeling like it’s the “right time” to have a child can be tricky - with myriad considerations to be made around career and financial security. With the average Australian studying for longer and taking more time to get into secure work, the notion of kids can be pushed further down the track. Modern fertility technologies and procedures like IVF change the landscape - but do Australia’s young people really understand when fertility starts to drop off? And does that mean they’re leaving their run too late?

In this study, the researchers surveyed more than a thousand students at the University of Melbourne, aiming to find out how well the young people understood fertility. The students were asked a range of questions about their plans for parenthood in the future, their knowledge about fertility, their socio-economic status, and where they liked to go to find fertility information. More than three quarters of those who responded to the study were women. The respondents were between the ages of 18 and 30.

The survey returned numerous interesting results. The overwhelming majority of respondents said they wanted to have children - less than 10 per cent said they didn’t, though you might expect some degree of self-selection in the survey to those who were interested in fertility. About half of those surveyed said they wanted to have their last child when they were at least 35 years old. Fewer than half of the students were able to correctly answer when a woman’s fertility declines and even fewer were able to identify when a man’s fertility declines. Those surveyed said they liked to get their fertility advice from the internet - that was the highest ranked answer - then their GP.

Implications

The researchers make the point that parenthood was important for many of the young people surveyed - yet suggested that achieving the other life goals they valued while having kids would be difficult. They suggested the findings might be used to inform flexible workplace arrangements to allow people to be parents while achieving other goals. If you’re planning to be a parent, it’s a good idea to keep in mind those ages when fertility markedly declines in men and women. For women, it’s between 35 and 39. For men, it’s between 45 and 49.

References

Prior, et al. (2018). Fertility facts, figures and future plans: an online survey of university students. Human Fertility doi: 10.1080/14647273.2018.1482569.