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Infertility Knowledge Low In Teens

September 22, 2008

A new Sunnybrook study raises concerns that a large percentage of high school students in the Greater Toronto Area lack the knowledge to adequately protect their ability to conceive children in the future. 

A first of its kind, the study assesses attitudes and knowledge about factors that can affect future fertility in a diverse North American high school population. Led by noted fertility specialist
Dr. Clifford Librach, reproductive endocrinologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and co-investigator, Susan Quach, MSc, the study surveyed 772 grade 11 and 12 students from the Toronto District School Board to gauge their knowledge and attitudes about infertility.

“Although most of the students surveyed reported that protecting their fertility was important to them, the majority were unaware, or knew very little about the preventable factors that can lead to infertility,” reports Dr. Librach, who is also an Associate Professor at University of Toronto in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “More than 94 per cent of students surveyed did not know that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can lead to infertility. Alarmingly, more than one third of the students did not know that smoking could also affect fertility.”

In North America, approximately one in six couples struggle with infertility and there appears to be a trend towards an even higher incidence. Dr. Librach regularly meets with couples dealing with infertility as a result of their history with STI(s). 

“Increased efforts are needed to empower young people with the knowledge they need to protect their fertility,” suggests Dr. Librach. “We must better integrate fertility education into our sexual education curriculum, and find ways to better encourage our young people both to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infection and pursue STI screening even if they have no symptoms.”

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