Fecundity vs. Fertility: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

In this lesson, we will learn about fecundity and fertility and how they are different. Learn more about fecundity and fertility from examples and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Fertility and fecundity are two closely related terms linked to reproduction. So what do these terms mean?

John and Suzie are a married couple living in Washington, DC. John is an established attorney, while Suzie has just joined a medical practice as a pediatrician. John and Suzie have two children. Though they would like to have more, they have both decided that it is in the best interest of the family to not have any additional children. John is trying to make partner at his law firm, and Suzie is still trying to establish her clientele at her medical practice. They are also both over 35, and any additional pregnancies would be considered high risk.

John and Suzie decided to stop having kids after their second child was born, but does this mean that they are no longer fertile?
family of four

Fertility refers to the natural capacity to produce offspring. Fertility as a measure (fertility rate) refers to the amount of children that an average woman gives birth to during her childbearing years. Europe has the lowest fertility rate in the world, with about 1.5 births per woman, while Africa has the highest at 6 births per woman. In the United States, the fertility rate is 2 births per woman.

Fertility depends on several factors. Nutrition can affect the ability to reproduce. Our culture and lifestyle can also influence the ability to reproduce. The fertility rate among industrialized and developed societies tends to be less than that of less developed, agricultural societies. Countries that have citizens who have higher levels of education and incomes generally have lower fertility rates as well. This is attributed to the adoption of behaviors that limit fertility, such as induced abortions, increased use of contraception, and limited sexual relations. For example, John and Suzie are both focused on improving their careers, so they decided to not have more children. They are also both highly educated and have careers that pay well. Biology also played a role in John and Suzie's decision as they were both getting older and neither wanted to deal with the issues associated with high risk pregnancies.

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