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Fertility and Intelligence

Baby and book

As a writer, I make the habit when I go out into the world of listening in on other people's conversations. That sounds creepy, let me rephrase. I make the habit of paying attention to how people interact with one another. For example, when I go to a movie theatre, as I'm inevitably wolfing down a tub of popcorn waiting for the previews to start, I like to listen to the conversations going on around me. On more than one occasion I've thought to myself "Is it just me, or are people getting dumber?"

Turns out I'm not crazy.

Last week I read about a scientific study suggesting that since the Victorian Era, Westerners have lost an average of 14 IQ points. Part of their explanation for this is a negative correlation between Fertility and I.Q. Meaning, women with a higher I.Q. tend to have fewer children.

Let's get it out of the way here - of course there are wildly intelligent women who have many kids (I know a few) and there are less than intelligent women who do not have any (ditto). This study isn't about absolutes, it's about trends.

Upon further investigation, I found out that fertility and intelligence is a subject that has been researched countless times from the beginning of the 20th century. The overwhelming majority of them have found that more often than not, the smarter the woman the fewer the children.

It's easy to jump to some conclusions as to why this is, and there are many floating theories on the subject.

The roles of a modern woman have changed. Slowly but surely over the last century, women have been given more choices. There was a time where marriage and motherhood seemed like the end all, be all. While a woman of high intelligence can obviously want a husband and children, there are other potential items on the agenda, now. A lady of a modest or better IQ may be more likely to fully realize what other options there are, be attracted to them, and embrace them.

The smarty smarts also seem to have more difficulty choosing a partner. Finding someone worth having children with is obviously a challenge for everyone, and really I think that regardless of intelligence or lackthereof sometimes it's just a matter of good or bad luck. It can be said that women of higher intelligence can sometimes seek and strive for a perfect situation which can make the payoff greater but it can, also, make things more challenging.

It could also be because of educational and therefor career differences. People of higher intelligence tend to seek out higher education and obviously as a result, a rewarding career. Higher educations eat a lot of money, and both education and worthwhile careers eat a lot of time. That's not to say those things knock having children off the list, but it can further complicate timing.

Of course, I couldn't find a study that factors INfertility and intelligence (though on a personal note, I can safely say I have never met a woman who had issues trying to conceive who was anything less than wildly intelligent).

I do wonder if there was a study on infertilty and intelligence, if they would find (as I suspect they would) that women going through fertility treatments of some kind tend to have a higher IQ.

Here's why I suspect they would.

Yes, as infertiles a lot of our treatment is in the hands of our Fertility Doctors (and a lot of that depends on having the right one). That being said, a lot of our treatment is in our OWN hands.

A woman going through infertility has to find the right Doctor. She has to be armed with information, will power, and gobble up any tidbits of wisdom she can whether it be from books, friends, online articles or by researching statistics. She has to take whatever information she is given by her Doctor, logically break it down and make informed decisions based on her own understanding. She has a level of persistence that I rarely see anywhere else, and becomes a quasi expert hurling terms around that no average fertile will have ever even heard of. She has the ability to sift through emotions most people will never experience, and engage in treatment with open eyes and brave determination. I have yet to meet a woman facing down the barrel of fertility treatments that does not fit the above description.

It is not a task for a dim-bulb.

So even though the studies I have seen don't seem to factor in infertility, I am privileged enough to now know hundreds of women going through fertility treatments. My own unofficial study has found that yes indeed, infertility is a struggle of the intelligent.


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