Better informed is better decided: Addressing the risks of delaying childbearing for female higher educational students

Claudia M. van der Heijde, Pascal R. Collard, Peter Vonk, Frans J. Meijman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Delayed childbearing has gradually started to become the norm for higher educational students, with possible increased future fertility risks and psychological distress as a consequence. What do female students expect from their general practitioners (GP) and other health care providers (HCPs) with regard to delaying childbearing? We also looked into indicators that can be used by HCPs to detect female university students who have issues regarding delayed childbearing. Cross sectional study: A total of 398 female students (mean age 21.83; SD = 2.4) from at least three different universities completed the questionnaire (distributed through the Internet and at a students' health service). Potential predictors for having an issue regarding delayed childbearing were assessed with multivariate logistic regression. Thirteen percent of 398 female students experienced being childless as more or less problematic. Forty-nine percent thinks having children deserves more attention and 33% of the students expect attention from their GP regarding a possible desire to have children during contraceptive consultations. Four factors demonstrated significant associations with having an issue concerning delayed childbearing: age (these issues also occur in younger students), worrying about fertility, not opting for an abortion if pregnant and dissatisfaction with current contraceptive use. HCPs should discuss delayed childbearing with female students, addressing both the decrease of fertility after a certain age (30), the limited range of fertility methods, and the possible negative physical and psychological consequences of postponement. These elements could be included into programmes of sexual and reproductive health training and into pre-conception care and pre-conception education.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170175
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number3
Early online date13 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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