What should high school fertility ed cover?


Prof Joyce Harper is the co-founder of the Fertility Education Initiative. She has spent the last two years giving talks to years 10-13 in a number of schools and conducting a survey which has been completed by over 1,300 16-18 year olds in the UK and 1700 in Belgium.

When I teach school children, I concentrate on the menstrual cycle (periods and the fertile window), PCOS, endometriosis, female and male fertility decline, infertility, and menopause. I make it clear that some of these topics are relevant whether they want children or not, and that these issues may affect boys, girls, trans and non-binary people, either directly or indirectly.

Our school survey showed that most importantly, teenagers felt their education was not LGBTQ+ inclusive so when I teach in schools and in our teachers’ educational resources, we explain how the LGBT community can have children if they wish and how transitioning may affect fertility.

The list of the topics I think should be covered in sex and reproductive health education include:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Contraception
  • Puberty
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ovulation
  • Pregnancy
  • Fertility
  • Infertility
  • IVF
  • Miscarriage
  • Abortion
  • Menopause
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Endometriosis
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Surrogacy
  • Egg freezing
  • Lifestyle factors impact on fertility
  • Egg and sperm donors

Educational resources for teachers, based on the results of Prof Harper’s survey, should soon be freely available via the International Fertility Education Initiative web site www.eshre.eu/IFEI

Fertility Network’s education project Your Future Fertility in Scotland and Wales aims to provide fertility info and education to young people and others.