Young Adults' Perceptions of Their Future Fertility Potential
Haigh, Katherine M.
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Session presented on Monday, September 19, 2016: Abstract Introduction: Family building, and the possibility of infertility is not a topic frequently discussed among young adults today, whether it be within the school system or through a wellness visit with a primary care physician. Actually, quite the opposite is true, as much time is spent educating young adults on how to prevent pregnancy. While young adults may not have immediate plans to build a family, they may be at a disadvantage if they are not properly educated on how family building is achieved, and factors which could negatively impact their future fertility. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2016) defines infertility as, 'a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after twelve months or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.' The current rate of infertility identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2015) is 10.9% in the United States alone. Several factors may be at fault for this high rate of infertility, including increase in obesity rates, lack of healthcare for at-risk populations and later age of first pregnancy. The aim of this paper is to better understand what young adults understand of their fertility potential, as this may help identify gaps in their current knowledge base so proper educational methods regarding fertility potential and treatment can be designed. Methods: This qualitative study was conducted in a large local university, following IRB approval in Spring semester 2016. To be considered eligible to participate in the 12 open-ended question survey, the students needed to be between the ages of 18-24 years of age. Ten young female nursing students agreed to participate in this study. Data was analyzed for content, then organized into topics with frequency of responses used to construct themes. Results: While it was evident that the participants understood basic tenets of reproduction, specifically regarding peak fertility, a few of the respondents were confused about the specifics regarding the menstrual cycle. Also surprising was that all participants were interested in future family building, indicating the need for fertility and family building education. Specific gaps in knowledge included: process of ovulation, fertilization and implantation, pregnancy outcomes based on age of conception and fertility preservation techniques available. Conclusion: It is evident by the answers from the participants that there are gaps in knowledge regarding fertility issues. It is reasonable to assume that nursing majors would have a greater knowledge base regarding conception and fertility, however some questions were met with uncertainty or inaccurate answers, specifically the time of peak fertility and fertility preservation options. With a more in depth interview, more information may be gleaned regarding the gaps in knowledge and also the goals young adults have regarding their future family building.