Women's Reproductive Health Awareness And The Role Of Digital Health

Reproductive knowledge among women was found to be low.

An interesting study of 1,000 women resulted some interesting observations regarding knowledge and educational sources for women’s health and reproduction. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and supported by an unrestricted educational grant by the makers of First Response in-home diagnostic tests and the leader in pregnancy, ovulation and fertility tests, unveils new and important insights about the reproductive knowledge among women ages 18-40 in the United States.

Let’s cut to the chase.  These results showed that only 50% have ever discussed their reproductive health with their medical provider.  Further, one-third of respondents admitted to visiting their reproductive health provider less than once a year or never. The research also revealed common misconceptions that women hold about ovulation, conception and factors that impact their fertility.

  • 40% of women across all age groups expressed concern about their ability to conceive.
  • 50% did not know that multivitamins with folic acid are recommended to reproductive age women to prevent birth defects.
  • 25% were unaware of the adverse implications of sexually transmitted infections, obesity, smoking or irregular menses on fertility.
  • 20%  were unaware of the effects of aging on reproductive success, including increased miscarriage rates, chromosomal abnormalities, and increased length of time to achieve conception.

The opportunity for digital engagement is both important and high.

While deficiencies exist in fundamental knowledge, common resources, beyond the physician, clearly indicated that digital health can play a role in engaging and educating women on health and reproduction.

  • Women’s health care provider – 75%
  • Pregnancy focused websites – 42.3%
  • Primary care physician – 35.3%
  • Medical Web sites – 32.5%
  • Parent or family member – 23.6%
  • Partner or spouse – 22%
  • Friend – 17.9%
  • Book or magazine – 16%
  • Pregnancy test brand website – 7%
  • Smartphone apps – 5.1%
  • Online social media – 4.3%
  • Information on products/packaging – 1.6%

Physicians and web sites were the top sources for information suggesting that both sources are valuable.  But perhaps the use of a combined educational programs that establish personal and on-line synergies may increase effectiveness and provide a higher level of education continuity and accuracy. Also, it is interesting to note that, following their women’s heath care provider, women rank pregnancy-focused websites as a top sources for information regarding their overall health.  While these data are not specific, the role of obstetrical and gynecological care providers has traditionally expanded into primary care and these data suggest that the digital activity might follow that same course and have primary care directly associated with women’s health.

Other digital sources, including social media are sited, but score low on the survey.  This can be a function of these sites themselves or a failure to engage the audience.  Women have a disproportionately higher share of voice on many sites–Pinterest as an example–and the opportunity to leverage this activity seems only to be increasing.  This survey certainly suggested that there is work to be done on educating women on reproductive health.  The value of personal and non-personal activity is clearly important.  While there is no simple solution, awareness combined with an integrated educational solution is key.  Digital health, with its innovation, growing venture capital, start-up zeal and popularity can play an important role in women’s health.