Infertility: Do you underestimate your chances?

A recent study caught my eye on the overestimation amongst men and women on their likelihood of being infertile.

The study was conducted at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and will be published in the March edition of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The researchers surveyed 3.2 million women and 2.6 million men and asked each subject to assess their own fertility. The study found 19% of American women aged between 18-29 years of age believed they were infertile, and 13% of men believed they were infertile. In both instances the perception of infertility was far greater than is actually true. In reality, it is well accepted that only 6% of American couples are infertile.

Why is there a tendency to underestimate our own personal fertility? This question was addressed by the researchers. One of the possible explanations was attributed to sex education and public health messages. For obvious reasons, such messages are often oversimplified and exaggerate the likelihood of a pregnancy. This has caused many to believe that if a pregnancy has not occurred after several or even as few as one act of unprotected sex, they must be infertile.

Many of the IVF clinics recommend fertility treatment as soon as after six months of trying to conceive. Realistically 85% of couples are unable to conceive after one year of trying. Yet very few of these couples are truly infertile. From a clinical perspective, all this misinformation serves to do is unnecessarily induce stress into the process of conception.

What do you think? Do those in the fertility industry purposely misinform prospective patients for the benefit of profit? Why is there an absence of public health programs designed to give a more realistic gauge on falling pregnant? 

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