Preliminary results from an online survey show that men in the United States know less about fertility and infertility treatment than women do and are particularly optimistic – or confused – when it comes to what they think they know about female fertility and age
Texas-based researchers Parker Murray and Rashmi Kudesia presented their study in Philadelphia at American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s 75th annual Scientific Congress and Expo. The Fertility and Infertility Treatment Knowledge Scale (FIT-KS), a web-based survey, was taken by 99 men in the United States.
Survey-takers were fluent in English and ranged in age from 18 to 50 (average age 30). About half of them were married or in a relationship, 66 percent were childless, and 61 percent had a college, or higher degree.
According to the researchers, the men’s average score on the FIT-KS was 42 percent. Most men answered only 12 out of 29 questions correctly, compared to a cohort of women who, in a previous administration of the survey, got an average of 16 answers correct.
Strikingly, only six percent knew that men could contribute to a couple’s infertility, although 25 percent knew that male age impacted fertility
Men tended to underestimate the decline of natural fertility in women associated with age, believing the odds to be better than they actually are of a woman achieving pregnancy at ages 30 and 40. This pattern of belief carried over into their views on IVF, with 19 percent of men overestimating IVF success rates at female age 35 and 86 percent overestimating the chance of IVF success for a woman of 44.
Most men (75 percent) underestimated the rate of spontaneous miscarriage and very few (17 percent) knew how long sperm survive in the female reproductive tract.
ASRM President Peter Schlegel, MD said: “This survey shows a steep learning curve for men when it comes to fertility knowledge. It’s an alert to our professional community that we need to make sure we have good, comprehensive educational and informational resources on hand for those men who find themselves encountering a diagnosis of their own or of their partner. We especially need to improve men’s knowledge of the age-related changes in fertility women face.”