'Your Fertility Matters' is a short public education video by the Fertility Education Initiative, a special interest group of the British Fertility Society. This animation is aimed at 'young people who may have been told how NOT to get pregnant but will likely know little about factors that could lead to infertility'.
While schools have worked hard to lower teen pregnancy rates, educate students about the issues around drugs, alcohol, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle, the quality of resources available is often problematic. Lack of time and opportunity in a packed curriculum means that advice around health and lifestyle choices might be limited to a generic PowerPoint delivered during morning tutor time or a year assembly, while the teacher attends to several other tasks at once. It is difficult, in other words, to do enough to deliver a powerful take-home message and, better still, to revisit this so it can truly stay with the youngsters it aims to help.
Opportunities to discuss these topics in more depth are either non-existent or subject to inflexible and inappropriate timetabling. Worse, they are often confined to inappropriate formats and shoe-horned into school initiatives such as Oracy – a nationwide initiative that aims to encourage speaking and listening, debating and public speaking through the use of selected discussion topics – without the necessary high-quality content that is essential for informed discussion.
Given these limitations, a resource that offers a well-structured narrative in a package that teenagers can relate to is always welcome. Especially so if it also revisits some content that has been covered in biology lessons.
The film takes us through two case studies using fictitious teenagers who do not meet until they are in their twenties. It uses familiar situations (recreational drug use and smoking, for example) to show that lifestyle choices made in youth can have an impact on fertility later in life. The young couple will eventually have to seek IVF treatment. As a viewer, I inferred that this was due to a collective set of circumstances that reduced the couple's overall chances of conceiving.
The film does not touch upon on the many medical issues that might be an important factor in causing infertility. It is possible that leaving these out could encourage younger and less well-informed viewers into adopting a simplistic mindset approach to infertility, viewing it as a condition caused solely by poor lifestyle choices. The complex nature of many infertility problems could never, in fairness, be addressed in one short film. Perhaps this might be a project for the Fertility Education Initiative in the future.
This short film packs plenty of useful information into just under four minutes. It is presented in an attractive graphic style, with colour and detail added as you watch. This is a format that could prove very useful to a personal, social, health and economics teacher in charge of presenting a sex education programme. The length of the video and the clarity of information is likely to sustain the attention of even the most disaffected teenager. The emphasis on self-care, awareness and personal responsibility is a good message for life as well as fertility care.