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Hum Reprod. 2006 Feb;21(2):558-64. Epub 2005 Nov 17.

Fertility awareness, intentions concerning childbearing, and attitudes towards parenthood among female and male academics.

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Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala Science Park, S-751 83 Uppsala, Sweden.



Postponing childbirth is becoming increasingly common in Western countries, especially among groups with higher education qualifications. It is relatively unknown to what extent women and men are aware of the age-related decline in female fertility. The aim was to investigate university students' intentions and attitudes to future parenthood and their awareness regarding female fertility.


Postal survey of a randomly selected sample of 222 female (74% response) and 179 male (60% response) university students.


Female and male university students in Sweden have largely positive attitudes towards parenthood and want to have children. Women, in comparison to men, were significantly more concerned about problems related to combining work and children. Both women and men had overly optimistic perceptions of women's chances of becoming pregnant. About half of women intended to have children after age 35 years and were not sufficiently aware of the age-related decline of female fecundity in the late 30s.


University students plan to have children at ages when female fertility is decreased without being sufficiently aware of the age-related decline in fertility. This increases the risk of involuntary infertility in this group, which is alarming in view of the great importance they put on parenthood.

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