What do people know about fertility? A systematic review on fertility awareness and its associated factors
Introduction: Recent evidence indicates that reproductive-age people have inadequate fertility awareness (FA) concerning fertility, infertility risk factors, and consequences of delaying childbearing. However, no study has tried to summarize these studies and to clarify the variables associated with FA, namely the role of gender, age, education, and reproductive status on FA.
Methods: A literature search up to February 2017 was conducted using the EBSCO, Web of Science, Scielo, and Scopus electronic databases with combinations of keywords and MeSH terms (e.g. ‘awareness’ OR ‘health knowledge, attitudes, practice’ AND ‘fertility’; ‘fertile period’; ‘assisted reprod*’).
Results: Seventy-one articles met the eligibility criteria and were included. The main results showed that participants report low-to-moderate FA. Higher levels of FA were shown by women, highly educated individuals, people who reported difficulties with conceiving, and those who had planned their pregnancies. Having or desiring to have children was not related to FA level. An inconsistent association between study participant age and FA was observed, with some studies indicating that older participants had higher FA, but others found an opposite result or did not find any association.
Conclusion: The current findings suggest that interventions to increase FA are warranted, especially those targeting men, people with low education, and in family planning settings. Interventions and campaigns should be customized to meet individuals’ needs regarding FA. Because of the high heterogeneity regarding the assessment of FA, these conclusions must be interpreted with caution.
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