New research has revealed that almost half (48%) of young people aged 16 – 24 are worried about their future fertility.
In a survey of 2,000 UK adults, carried out by fertility benefits company Apryl, almost a fifth (17%) of Gen Z said they were “very worried” about their fertility, whilst nearly a third (31%) were “somewhat worried” about being able to conceive.
The findings come as HFEA data released last week shows a sharp rise in the number of people seeking fertility treatments like egg freezing since the pandemic. Apryl’s findings also point to a heightened awareness about peoples’ ability to conceive.
A fifth of young people are going online for help
When asked where they would turn for help should they be concerned about their fertility, a fifth (21%) of Gen Z respondents said they would turn to social media or search for information online as a first port of call.
Just over a quarter (27%) said they’d turn to NHS fertility services; and only 18% said they’d head to the NHS website.
But fertility experts warn that seeking fertility advice on social media can do more harm than good. On TikTok, posts which feature the hashtag #ttccommunity – which stands for trying to conceive – have received over 1.8 billion views to date. #unexplainedinfertility has over 160 million views and there have been 60 million views of posts about #eggretrieval. The advice shared in the videos is not moderated or fact-checked.
Jenny Saft, CEO and co-founder at Apryl, comments:
Whilst we offer sex education in schools, there’s very little time spent on educating people about fertility. This can leave people feeling anxious as to when the ‘best’ time to plan for a family is, and generate fears around leaving it ‘too late’.
“The earlier you start to think about your fertility and whether you might like to have a family one day, the easier it is to plan ahead. It’s smart to be aware of your body and how fertility works. But it doesn’t mean you need to feel overly anxious about your fertility when you’re young and enjoying everything life has to offer.
“Ultimately, when the time is right, you’ll be ready to make an informed decision about your future fertility, armed with the resources and facts. Increasingly, workplaces are offering employees support to help them pay for things like egg freezing and IVF; and the science surrounding fertility treatments is improving every year.
“However, I would exercise caution when it comes to seeking fertility advice online. There are lots of highly qualified clinicians creating supportive communities for people trying to conceive on social media. But there are also people who are sharing advice without reliable sources or the right qualifications. Wherever possible, seek professional advice from clinicians and fertility experts, who know your circumstances and can personalise the advice to you.
“It’s also important to take care of our health, to protect our fertility. Avoiding smoking, excessive drinking and eating a healthy balanced diet can all contribute to a healthy body and an increased likelihood of being able to conceive naturally.
Just last month, data released by Apryl found that more than a fifth of Gen Z workers were interested in accessing fertility and family forming support through work, pointing to increased awareness amongst young people about how they might access fertility support.
In a separate survey, two thirds of adults aged 18 – 34 said they’d consider freezing their eggs, sperm or embryos to preserve their fertility, if they could afford it.