"age is Just a Number": How Celebrity-Driven Magazines Misrepresent Fertility at Advanced Reproductive Ages

Stephanie F. Willson, Allison Perelman, Kara N. Goldman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recognizing the pervasive impact of popular media on reproductive-aged women, we sought to characterize the depiction of age-related fertility decline in widely consumed media. Materials and Methods: We performed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of top read print magazines targeting reproductive-aged women. Primary outcome measures include celebrity age at time of pregnancy, content related to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and donor gametes, and mention of risks related to pregnancy at advanced maternal age (AMA). Results: Four hundred sixteen magazine issues published between January 2010 and January 2014 included 1,894 headlines, photos, or text passages related to fertility. Fertility was highlighted on one-third of all magazine covers. Two hundred forty celebrities received at least one fertility-related depiction. The majority (56%) were of AMA; only two mentions of AMA-related obstetrical risks were included. Three of 240 subjects (1.25%) were reported as having used ART. Forty-five celebrities (33%) were at least 40 years old at the time of mention; 7 subjects >44 years were depicted as pregnant or having delivered a healthy infant, without mention of ART. Donor gametes received no mention. All 416 magazines (100%) contained at least 1 reference to contraception; only 10 magazines (2.4%) mentioned any form of ART. Conclusions: Widely consumed popular media downplays the impact of age on fertility. Magazines promote contraception contrasted with easily reachable fertility goals at advanced reproductive ages, with rare or no mention of ART, donor gametes, or AMA-related health risks. Magazine content may be a contributing source to the public's misconceptions about age-related fertility decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1338-1343
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Volume28
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2019

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Keywords

  • advanced maternal age
  • infertility
  • patient education
  • popular media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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