So why is it that we know so very little about how exactly that happens?
A new study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine has uncovered just how uninformed many women are about their reproductive health.
Consider these startling findings from the survey of 1,000 reproductive-age women:
- 50% had never discussed their reproductive health with a medical provider.
- 30% either never visited their reproductive health provider or did so less than once a year.
- 50% didn’t know that vitamins with folic acid are recommended to prevent birth defects.
- A quarter didn’t know that STDs, obesity, smoking, and irregular periods can have a negative impact on fertility.
- 20% were unaware that your age can affect your reproductive success.
What’s more, many of the women exhibited a basic misunderstanding of how conception works:
- 50% said they believed having sex several times per day would increase the chances of conception.
- Only 1 in 10 women knew that sex should occur before ovulation (not after) to increase the chances of conception.
- A whopping 40% said they believed their ovaries continue to produce new eggs throughout their reproductive years. (There is some new research challenging the traditionally held belief that we are born with all the eggs we’re ever going to have, but still.)
Considering how monumental giving birth is—and how affected we are by our reproductive systems even if we never have biological children—it’s amazing that baby-making is still such an enigma to most of us.
Why is that?
Is it because most of us were taught not to talk about sex or our nether regions, so we’re still a little squeamish about it?
Is it because we think we don’t need the information, that we can carry on just fine without it?
Is it because the system still fails to give women’s reproductive health the weight it deserves?
Whatever the reason, here are a few ways you can make sure you’re not in the dark about the baby-making parts of your body.
1. Get thee to the doctor.
If you haven’t yet found an OB-GYN you’re truly comfortable talking to, keep looking! It’s so important to have a medical provider you trust and are willing to see regularly.
2. Educate yourself.
The information is out there, you just need to take (find?) the time to learn it. Our Bodies, Ourselves has long been a trusted source of credible info on all things women’s health and sexuality.
3. Share your knowledge.
The sex ed your kids receive in school deals mostly with the pressing issues of puberty and safe sex, not reproductive health and fertility. That means it’s up to parents to encourage their children to learn about it (when the time is right, of course).
4. Get involved.
There are some great organizations advocating for greater awareness and stronger policies surrounding women’s reproductive health, including the National Women’s Health Resource Center. But they can’t accomplish their goals without the support of the millions of us affected by these issues each and every day.
Why do you think so many women are ill-informed when it comes to conception and reproduction?
image via Kurhan on sxc.hu