My mom started having children at 19, which was fairly common for her generation. Today though, more and more women are choosing to conceive later in life and have pushed pregnancy back until 29, 30, or even later. Interestingly enough though, a new study has shown that women who are more knowledgeable about age-related fertility issues have started to move their ideal pregnancy ages up, even though they may not be at risk of impacted fertility due to age.
In a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers have found that college students who have been made aware of the possibility of delayed fertility due to age are starting to rethink their pregnancy timelines. On average, the women in the study planned to have their first child around 29 and stop having children around 34. However, after reading a brief online brochure about age-related fertility decline and in-vitro fertilization success rates, the women reconsidered their decision to have children that late.
The women in the study didn’t struggle with fertility issues and there were no background studies to determine if age-related fertility problems runs in their families. It was just the new knowledge that changed their minds.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Rachel Thompson, post-doctoral research fellow at the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science in Hanover, N.H, says that "this study suggests that many people may be delaying having children without fully understanding fertility decline, and with unrealistically optimistic views of the 'safety net' provided by reproductive technology.”
Thompson also commented that a little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to family planning. The issue is similar to providing contraceptive and safe sex knowledge to teens, but in this case, it warns college-age women to think about having children while they’re still able to conceive without difficulty. The study doesn’t suggest that college-age women should get pregnant at the first possible opportunity but instead cautions young families about waiting too long.
"Increasing awareness of fertility issues, even though simple tools, is essential for ensuring young women and men can make informed reproductive decisions and could ultimately have a big impact on society," says Thompson.
Source: Dartmouth College. "Could basic fertility information be key to reversing late-parenthood trend?" ScienceDaily. 19 Nov 2013. Web. 23 Nov 2013.