A new ad campaign is attempting to shock women into thinking about their fertility.
The "Get Britain Fertile" campaign, funded by pregnancy testing company First Response, depicts 46-year-old TV presenter Kate Garraway dressed up to look like a "heavily pregnant 70-year-old," reported The Telegraph. The image is quite striking and is presumably intended to shock -- in order to start a conversation about delaying having children. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average British woman has her first child at age 30, five years later than the average woman in the United States.
Garraway told The Telegraph that she participated in the First Response campaign because she "want[s] to alert women to start thinking about their fertility at a younger age than my generation did."
As Slate's Jessica Grose noted, a 2011 survey found that 70 percent of women said that they wanted to have children, with the majority of those women reporting that they'd like to have their first child in their early 30s. However, the survey also found that 75 percent of women who wanted to get pregnant eventually were not concerned about their ability to conceive. Yet a December 2012 study found that over half of women who needed IVF to become pregnant after age 40 were "shocked" that they needed to undergo fertility treatments. Obviously some women are not being properly informed about the realities of their own fertility.
However, some have criticized the campaign, arguing that it's not actually an effective way to educate women about these issues:
Women struggling with fertility or lack of partner do not need campaign in their face with wrinkly old mum & 'Get Britain Fertile' message— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) May 23, 2013
Kate Garraway's Get Britain Fertile campaign is wrong, misogynistic and utterly naive. My Scotsman columnscotsman.com/news/emma-cowi…— Emma Cowing (@emmacowing) May 22, 2013
According to Think Progress' Aviva Shen, the campaign is effectively shaming women for making the choice to delay child-rearing. "First Response has decided the solution to the trend of women waiting longer to have children is to criticize them, prey on their fears of aging, and exploit social disgust for even moderately sexual old women," she wrote.
She also pointed out that "Get Britain Fertile" ignores the very real reasons that many women feel compelled to have children in their 30s, like student debt, the inability to find steady work with health benefits and the sheer cost of raising a baby.
Hopefully we can find a way to give women the facts about their own biological clocks without making them feel guilty or terrified for waiting to have kids -- or not having kids at all.
What do you think of the "Get Britain Fertile" ad? Is it effective or offensive?
Related on HuffPost:
<strong>1. Your fertility is mostly determined by genetics, which influences how many eggs you are born with. </strong> Doctors believe that the number of eggs you have at birth determines the length of time you will remain fertile. At birth, women have about two million eggs in their ovaries. For every egg ovulated during your reproductive life, about 1,000 eggs undergo programmed cell death. Other things, such as smoking cigarettes and certain types of chemotherapy, can accelerate egg cell death and promote an earlier menopause.
<strong>2. Regular menstrual cycles are a sign of regular ovulation.</strong> Most women have regular cycles lasting between 24 and 35 days. This is usually a sign of regular, predictable ovulation. Women who do not ovulate regularly have irregular menstrual cycles. Those who do not ovulate at all may have a genetic condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
<strong>3. Basal temperature charting does not predict ovulation.</strong> An older method of tracking ovulation involves taking your oral body temperature each morning before getting out of bed. This is called basal body temperature. This method is used to spot a rise in basal temperature, which is a sign that progesterone is being produced. The main problem with using this method is that your temperature rises after ovulation has already occurred. This makes it more difficult to time intercourse at an optimal time for conception. A better method is to use over-the-counter urine ovulation predictor test kits such as Clearblue Easy. These kits test for the hormone that prompts ovulation, which is called luteinizing hormone (LH).
<strong>4. Most women with blocked fallopian tubes are completely unaware they may have had a prior pelvic infection.</strong> About 10 percent of infertility cases are due to tubal disease, either complete blockage or pelvic scarring causing tubal malfunction. One major cause of tubal disease is a prior pelvic infection from a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia. These infections can cause so few symptoms that you may be completely unaware your tubes are affected. This is why fertility physicians will order a dye test of the tubes, called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), if you have been trying and failing to conceive for 6 months or longer.
<strong>5. In most cases, stress does not cause infertility.</strong> Except in rare cases of extreme physical or emotional distress, women will keep ovulating regularly. Conceiving while on vacation is likely less about relaxation than about coincidence and good timing of sex.
<strong>6. By age 44, most women are infertile, even if they are still ovulating regularly.</strong> Even with significant fertility treatment, rates of conception are very low after age 43. Most women who conceive in their mid-40's with fertility treatment are using donated eggs from younger women.
<strong>7. Having fathered a pregnancy in the past does not guarantee fertility.</strong> Sperm counts can change quite a bit with time, so never assume that a prior pregnancy guarantees fertile sperm. Obtaining a semen analysis is the only way to be sure the sperm are still healthy!
<strong>8. For the most part, diet has little or nothing to do with fertility.</strong> Despite popular press, there is little scientific data showing that a particular diet or food promotes fertility. One limited study did suggest a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, fish and legumes may help promote fertility.
<strong>9. Vitamin D may improve results of fertility treatments.</strong> A recent study from the University of Southern California suggested that women who were undergoing fertility treatments, but had low vitamin D levels, might have lower rates of conception. This vitamin is also essential during pregnancy. At Pacific Fertility Center, we recommend our patients take 2,000-4,000 IU per day.
<strong>10. Being either underweight or overweight is clearly linked with lowered levels of fertility.</strong> The evidence in recent years is that obesity is clearly linked with a longer time to conception. Having a body mass index less than 18 or over 32 is associated with problems ovulating and conceiving, as well as problems during pregnancy.