The Joint Annual Scientific Meetings of the Endocrine Society of Australia and the Society for Reproductive Biology 2018

Understanding female fertility and taking control of reproductive health: preliminary data from a fertility knowledge survey (#391)

Emmalee A Ford 1 2 , Emma L Beckett 3 , Jessie M Sutherland 1 2
  1. School of Biomedical Science and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia
  2. Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  3. School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

The age-related decline in oocyte quality and quantity remains a major limitation in the treatment of female infertility. This is particularly important when considered in the context of the trend for women to have children later in life (22% of Australian mothers over ≥ 35 years of age). Delays in childbearing have been concomitant with a rise in the number of couples seeking Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Additionally, recent findings suggest the general fertility knowledge of Australian women at reproductive age is lacking. The current study aims to examine this gap in the fertility knowledge of Australian women, investigating the sources on which women base their understanding of reproductive health. To explore these aspects, we have conducted a survey with questions targeted towards understanding how women receive information about reproductive health. In the survey, seven general fertility knowledge questions were incorporated – including age of fertility decline, cyclic fertility, impacts of lifestyle factors and ART success. At the termination of the survey, 643 participants qualified for analysis. In assessing these responses, participants averaged only three correct answers (P<0.001). Among participants, 43% reported to use smartphone apps for reproductive health functions, with the top functions listed as menstrual tracking (91% of users), natural contraception (42%), and pregnancy (18%). This study has found that application may be linked to increased fertility knowledge, as app users were found to perform better than non-users, particularly when asked about the most fertile time in a menstrual cycle (P<0.01). These data also indicated that those who relied on school education as a source were more likely to score lower in fertility knowledge questions (P<0.05). This study highlights the need for development of applications with professional involvement. These findings will assist in the design of educational interventions appropriate to improve reproductive health and fertility knowledge across Australia.