Illustration for article titled Stigma Against Childlessness Could Hurt Womens Health

A new study shows that women without kids may have poorer health than moms do, and bias against childlessness could be part of the reason why.

Advertisement

According to HealthCanal, Australian researchers studied 50 women between the ages of 30 and 45, all without kids. They found that the women "reported statistically significant poorer general health, vitality, social functioning and mental health when compared to the adult female population of Australia." Confusingly, the childless women had better "physical functioning" than average. It's not clear how this is distinct from general health, but maybe ladies without kids had more time to exercise and keep their fitness levels up. They also ate more veggies than average — again, perhaps because they had time to prepare kale instead of tater tots.

The study authors note that they can't prove childlessness causes poor health — says Dr. Melissa Graham, "Poorer health among childless women may mean they are less likely to have children, rather than their poor health being a result of their childlessness." However, Graham also cites her previous research showing that "childlessness is perceived predominantly negatively and this may have consequences for the health of childless women." A previous study she co-authored has a pretty telling title: "‘Unnatural', ‘Unwomanly', ‘Uncreditable' and ‘Undervalued': The Significance of Being a Childless Woman in Australian Society." It's certainly true that some health problems can make it difficult or impossible to have children, but of the 50 women Graham and her team studied, nearly half were childless by choice. This suggests that childlessness might in fact give rise to unique health challenges, and bias may be part of the reason why.

Advertisement

Childless Women At Greater Risk Of Poor Health, Study Finds [HealthCanal]

Image via Sarycheva Olesia/Shutterstock.com

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

This is a little close to home. I have talked to a few women that are in their 40's or late 30's that I am friends with about how they feel about not having children.

I am 29 and in no rush to have kids- I don't know if I want them but am getting paranoid about my age. I do not want to have a child after 33. (I know, it is young, but child birth is much harder and I want my kids out of the house while I am still young) I am worried about missing out but the people that I know that don't have kids have interesting lives and hobbies and travel. Sometimes I think that people regret having kids but can't admit it.

I know this is a personal question, but whoever will answer:

Are you an older woman that is child free?

Do you 'regret' it?

Do you think you are missing out?

I don't know how to frame these questions in a less frank way. I am not trying to imply anything mean.