26 May 2020

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What every woman should know about her fertility

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How much do you know about your fertility? Is having a family something you’ve considered, but haven’t really given much thought to?

As Australia’s leading fertility specialists, we know all too well the impacts of women trying for children too late – especially considering that a woman’s age is the number one cause of fertility issues. But for many, high school was the last time they received any education about their fertility, and the focus then is generally on what to do so you DON’T fall pregnant.

For this reason, we commissioned a study amongst women of reproductive age to find out if they really understand their own fertility. 
Some of the results may surprise you:

  • 64% of respondents didn’t know their fertility rapidly declines from the age of 36
  • 60% believed infertility in their 40’s would be easily resolved if they underwent IVF
  • 20% incorrectly believed it only became difficult for a woman to fall pregnant naturally in her late 40’s
  • 80% knew a pregnant woman in her late 30’s and early 40’s had an increased risk of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities, however 42% did not know this age group also has an increased risk of miscarriage
  • 92% of women knew that being overweight could affect their fertility
  • 74% knew that excessive alcohol consumption could also affect their fertility

Is there a lack of understanding about fertility?

There appears to be a critical information gap about how a woman’s age and egg quality affects her fertility and chance of falling pregnant. As an example, at 30, when trying to conceive, a woman has a 20% chance of falling pregnant in any given month, compared to less than 5% chance when she is in her 40’s.

It’s a real misconception that women can delay motherhood until their late 30’s and rely on IVF to easily resolve their problems and conceive well into their 40’s. Although IVF is very effective and may dramatically improve a woman’s chances of having a baby – it is not a guarantee.

Unfortunately, the effects of age on a woman’s fertility cannot be reversed.  As a woman ages so do her eggs, and it is not possible to improve the quality of a woman’s eggs – which impacts her chance of conceiving both spontaneously and with IVF.  The increase in media stories of celebrities having babies in their mid-40s has given people a false sense of security as to how age impacts their fertility.

But, it’s not all bad news.

The survey results did demonstrate that women are well informed regarding lifestyle factors impacting their fertility such as weight and excessive alcohol consumption.

While we can’t do anything about the impact age has on a woman’s fertility, we can provide women with the facts about how their age and health affects fertility, so that even if they’re not ready to start their family now, they make informed decisions about their future.

For example, it might be a good idea for women who are concerned about their age and are wondering about their fertility window to consider an AMH test, or Anti Mullerian Hormone Test. Otherwise known as the ‘egg reserve test’ or ‘egg timer test’, this simple blood test can provide insight into the remaining quantity of eggs and number of fertile years you may have, but it cannot tell us much about the quality of those eggs.

Learn more about the AMH test by contacting your GP or fertility specialist. 

Facts of fertility

Find out more here:

For NSW
For VIC
For QLD
For TAS

The survey of 1038 Australian women aged 18-55 was conducted by Research Now, April 2014.

 

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