Young women thinking they're infertile poses big problems for Latinas

We've all heard that many women past 35 worry about their fertility (and for good reason, doctors have confirmed that it becomes more difficult to conceive and the risks of miscarriage and birth defects increase)--but who knew younger females do too?

A new study by the Guttmacher Institute showed that 19% of women and 13% of men from the ages of 18 to 29 believe that they're infertile. In reality, only 6% of women in this age group are actually likely to be infertile, but we Latinas are apparently the most paranoid! The report shows that those who identified as Hispanics were more likely than those of other races to think they couldn't conceive.

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So what's with all the uncertainty?  It could be due to a lack of accurate information about fertility issues. If women don't know their chances of being infertile, then they'll probably assume the worst. And though both males and females can get tested to determine their level of fertility, the examinations are expensive and not common among those who aren't already trying to produce a baby. Plus, there are a ton of conflicting views on when is the appropriate time to have a child: If you're young, you're not mature enough to conceive, but if you're older, then what are you waiting for? It makes getting the real facts difficult and confusing.

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Personally, this data doesn't surprise me at all.  I'm only 22 years old and the thought of having kids now terrifies me. At the same time, the thought of not being able to have kids scares me even more. And while most people would say I'm too young to worry, I cant say the possibility of having fertility problems in the future hasn't crossed my mind.

The issues with this perception is that it can lead to unexpected results for many females. If adolescents or women in their 20s don't believe they are fertile, but have never actually been tested, they could be having unprotected sex – which in turn could lead to unwanted or teenage pregnancy.

This is especially important for Latina women, who all too often become teen mothers. Though a report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy's Latino Initiative shows that the birth rate for Hispanic teens is at its lowest on record,  it also shows that both "Latino teen birth and pregnancy rates are almost twice the national average and have declined only half as fast as national rates."

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What's a plausible resolution? The Guttmacher study suggests "improving provider counseling and sex education" and I agree. Information is never a bad thing, increased knowledge could lead to better use of contraceptives, not to mention general stress relief for a large population of young women. Win-win, if you ask me.

What do you think a good solution to this issue would be? 

Image via michi003/flickr