Late marriage is a growing phenomenon, especially in the urban areas of Pakistan, due to multiple socioeconomic factors. In our society, this problem consequently affects women in a variety of ways and impedes their efforts on getting settled in their married life. The reproductive health of married women gets affected the most; thereby complicating things for them to survive in a society which is extremely intolerant when it comes to infertility and the issues rendering the women unable to bear children. Marriage, undoubtedly, is one of the most important institutions for a peaceful and prosperous society but it becomes problems-ridden because of the poor reproductive health of women.
There is no blinking the fact that late marriages give rise to many complicated problems including infertility and other related issues regarding conception and birth. Changing socioeconomic conditions across the globe are further aggravating the problem of late marriages. As the society is going through a transition, urbanization is on the rise and changing social texture has brought radical changes in the society. Today, individuals have no choice but to succumb to the social changes and pressures. On the other hand, female enrolment in educational institutions as well as in the labour force has also increased manifold. This, too, has resulted into late marriages having their own complications.
Age is a decisive factor especially for women in terms of conception. The delayed marriage often leads to low fertility and reduced chances of conception. According to Advanced Fertility Centre Chicago, one in every four women is infertile at the age of 35. The study further reveals that complications regarding infertility and conception become substantial in the late 30s. There are very few women who are fertile at the age of 45 (Binson, 2013). Importance of sound sexual and reproductive health can be gauged from the fact that it was given due weight in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and has also caught the sight of the framers of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) maintains that fertility decreases with the increase in age. So, the women who get married quite late are likely to face serious problems of reproductive health. They may face infertility, delayed conception or even no conception at all, complications in prenatal and postnatal periods and abnormality in children. Reproductive health is about the enhancement of life, personal relations and well-being on the whole. The health risks may be influenced by many factors such as cultural expectations, access to information, education and health services and gender inequities. The lack of knowledge about reproductive health may have great consequences (Farzana, 2008).
The society has undergone a huge transformation caused by the increasing awareness about female education and the unwarranted urbanization. More women are getting higher education by each passing day. After the completion of their formal education, getting a job, pressed by socioeconomic factors, becomes their topmost priority. Tremendous socioeconomic growth, especially in education, is directly connected to development and modernization leading to rising number of women delaying their marriages. This pursuit of higher education and suitable career thereof delays their marriages to the extent invoking troubles and complications in their married lives, the poor reproductive health being at the top.
According to the Population Survey (2016), men and women are marrying later compared to the past. They are influenced a great deal by the socioeconomic factors. The governments across the globe have been sensitized to encourage and facilitate women to be part of the public service and decision-making processes. Consequently, this has distracted women to concentrate on getting married timely. Pakistani women, too, are no exception. Delayed marriages are more prevalent in the urban areas of the country. But less research has been conducted on the issue. There is a dire need to study the effects of late marriages on the reproductive health of married women and their likely effects on the children.