Despite the fact that fertility declines with age after young adulthood, increasingly, young people around the world are planning to have children later in life.
But new research shows a simple brochure can prompt many to accelerate their planned timelines.
In a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility
, researchers found that college students intended to have children about one year earlier after they read a brief online brochure about age-related fertility decline and in-vitro fertilization success rates.
On average, the students originally planned to have their first child at 29 years old and their last at 34 years old. After viewing the brochure, they shifted their intended ages to 28 and 33, respectively. Their knowledge of age-related fertility decline and the effectiveness of in-vitro fertilization also increased substantially.
The findings show that a little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to family planning, said study co-author Rachel Thompson, post-doctoral research fellow at The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science in Hanover, N.H.
"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," said Thompson, who came to Dartmouth after conducting the study with Aleena Wojcieszek at the University of Queensland in Australia.
"Increasing awareness of fertility issues, even through simple tools, is essential for ensuring young women and men can make informed reproductive decisions and could ultimately have a big impact on society," she added.