24 May 2014

Survey reveals lack of fertility awareness amongst women

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IVF Australia

Australia’s leading fertility specialists are encouraging women to get the facts on fertility, after a national survey revealed more than half of respondents had surprising misconceptions about the impact of age on a woman’s fertility and chance of IVF success.

The study of 1,000 Australian women of reproductive age commissioned by IVFAustralia,  Melbourne IVF and Queensland Fertility Group, part of the country’s largest IVF group Virtus Health found 64% of respondents didn’t know their fertility rapidly declines from the age of 36. Of the respondents, 60% also believed infertility in their 40s would be easily resolved if they underwent IVF.

Professor Michael Chapman, senior fertility specialist IVFAustralia said that the results show there is a critical information gap amongst women of reproductive age about how a woman’s age and her egg quality directly affects her fertility and chance of IVF success.

“It’s a serious misconception that women can delay motherhood until their late 30s and rely on IVF to easily resolve their problems and conceive in their 40s, and these survey results suggest that is exactly what many women may do based on their beliefs.

“The reality is we can’t improve the quality of a woman’s eggs, and as a woman ages so do her eggs, and this impacts her chance of conceiving both spontaneously and with IVF.

“We still have a long way to go to get the message through that 35 is a turning point in a woman’s fertility. Delay can make things more difficult later on,” he explained.

“For example, at 30, a woman has a 20% chance of falling pregnant spontaneously per month , compared to less than 5% chance per month when she is in her 40s. Although IVF is very effective and may markedly improve a woman’s chances of having a baby – it is no guarantee.

"As someone who sees every day the challenges faced by women trying to conceive in their late 30s and early 40s, I am very aware of how important it is to support  women in  their quest to have  a baby. The other complicating factor is the reality that in today’s society many women don’t find their soul mate until their 30s ,so we encourage women to understand their fertility to make decisions that suit their situation.”

The majority of survey participants stated they rely on the internet for advice on women’s health concerns so  IVFAustralia has developed a short animation ‘The facts about female fertility' at www.youtube.com/ivfaustralia  that creatively illustrates the effect of age and lifestyle factors on a woman’s fertility.

The animation is part of a national fertility awareness campaign, get the facts on fertility, in partnership with IVF Australia and Queensland Fertility Group aiming to update all Australian women about the key factors that affect their ability to conceive now and in the future.

Other interesting findings include:

  • One in five women (20%) incorrectly believed it only became difficult for a woman to fall pregnant naturally in her late 40’s.
  • While 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, 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, and 74% knew that excessive alcohol consumption could also affect their fertility.

Prof Chapman said for many, high school was the last time they received any education about their fertility.

“These survey results demonstrate that some messages specifically around lifestyle factors such as weight and alcohol have hit home, however 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.

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 further information visit www.ivf.com.au/fertility

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

For further information or interviews with IVFAustralia’s Senior Fertility Specialist Professor Michael Chapman please Contact Us.

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