Back-to-School: The Fertility Facts Most of Us Were Never Taught

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Leading sex educator and couples’ therapist Dr. Laura Berman reveals the secrets they never taught us in school and how they can help us understand our fertility. 

A recent study published in the medical journal Human Fertility found that most young people are woefully undereducated when it comes to sex education, particularly how male and fertility works. Less than half of the students surveyed knew the age when a women’s fertility declines, and even fewer could pinpoint when male fertility declines.

”Interestingly, many of the students surveyed said they wanted to be parents when they were older,” says Dr. Laura Berman, leading sex educator, popular television personality, radio host, New York Times bestseller and author of the groundbreaking book Talking to Your Kids About Sex.  “Yet, even though they want children in the future, not many of them knew very much about how fertility works, let alone how best to protect their fertility and maintain reproductive health.”

Even worse, says Dr. Berman, the same is true of most people, regardless of their age.

“The sad fact is that most of us are in the dark when it comes to how fertility works and how babies are made,” says the sex therapist, who is based in Los Angeles, California. “This is no surprise, considering a good portion of this journey occurs within a woman’s body, and talking about issues like menstruation, ovulation, uterine health, and such topics can be taboo.”

Love Your Body and Who You Are

Dr. Berman says the first step in educating young people and adults about fertility and sexual health needs to be teaching body-acceptance and demystifying these long-feared topics.

“When we can help young people to understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to their bodies and the way their hormones work, then they will be empowered to not only make better choices, but to also be more respectful of other people’s choices,” says Dr. Berman. “They will better understand things like consent and bodily autonomy, which should be the cornerstones of any sex education program.”

After these topics are discussed, Dr. Berman says there are other fast fertility facts which teens should be taught, and which every adult should know.

Do you know all of these fast fertility facts? 

  • For women, over-exercising can lower your chances of getting pregnant. “Being at a healthy weight and being active is important,” says Dr. Berman. “But if you overdo it, you will harm your chances of getting pregnant.”
  • Cigarette-smokers have been found to go into menopause a full four years earlier than non-smokers, which in turn means your fertility could be impacted if you light up. “As if you needed yet another reason not to smoke!” says the sex therapist.
  • Pot can harm sperm. “Research also shows that cigarette-smoking AND pot-smoking is bad for sperm, so men take heed.”
  • Freeze your eggs as soon as possible. “If you ever think you want to have kids, and you want to freeze your eggs, do it NOW. The best time is in your twenties or early thirties,” says Dr. Berman.

And, most importantly, remember not all lubricant is created equal, says Dr. Berman.

“Couples know that they need to enjoy lots of love-making in order to increase their chance of conception, but when it comes to making babies, not all lubricants are created equal,” explains Dr. Berman. “There is only one lubricant on the market which has an FDA-cleared formula and is recommended for fertility enhancement, and that is ToConcieve.”

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