One in six Australian couples will have a fertility issue at some point in their lives and one in 10 couples will have trouble conceiving their second child. You are not alone.
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One of the key findings in The Australian Fertility Census recently, and the finding that worried us the most, was that the majority of Australians aged over 35 indicated they believed they should keep trying to conceive naturally for more than 12 months without gaining insights into fertility issues.
We want to address this head on: This is a misconception which could seriously impact their chances of having a baby.
The widely accepted medical recommendation is that couples over 35 should seek advice after six months of unprotected sex without success. Worryingly, more than two thirds of those we surveyed in The Australian Fertility Census said people should keep trying for longer than 12 months without looking into things.
And this is exactly why we created The Australian Fertility Census. We knew that there was a stigma which existed about fertility and that as a result there were many myths and misconceptions which abounded and which could be directly or indirectly affecting the success of couples trying for a baby. We want to help all Australians to be empowered and conceive successfully and a powerful way to do that is to learn more about what they know and through that break open the conversation about fertility.
The largest and first of its kind, the Census unearthed lots of interesting and intriguing information but we wanted to start by addressing this particular point because we often see the sad consequence of Australians delaying seeking medical advice about their fertility.
As Genea Medical Director Mark Bowman explains your chance of getting pregnant doesn’t increase the longer you try.
“Those couples who conceive naturally, irrespective of age, will tend to do so in the first few months of trying and most couples who are destined to conceive will do so within six to twelve months. Once the woman is over 35, age becomes a greater factor and the chance of natural conception as time goes on falls significantly,” he said.
Age is the main factor in this discussion and a woman’s age is most important. As much as society and the media (and our friends) keep telling us that 40 is the new 30, women’s eggs have not received the message. Frustrating though it is, female age is one infertility factor we can do little to combat retrospectively.
The issue is that women are born with all of the eggs they’ll ever have - approximately two million and by the time of their first period, that number will have dropped to approximately 300,000. Not only is the number of eggs falling as a woman gets older but the quality of the ones left also diminishes.
Even though the Census also found one in three respondents don’t believe men have a biological clock, the truth is, men aren’t off the hook.
“It’s not as widely known but age also impacts men’s fertility and the health of any resulting children,” Assoc. Professor Bowman said.
So the overall message is that fertility is finite and if you want to have kids the best idea is to ask for help if it’s not happening for you naturally. Seeking help is not a fast track to IVF, you might just need a little help ovulating or maybe something as simple as improving your lifestyle or quitting smoking would help.
Your dreams of a family are too important to let them slip away because you didn’t ask for help. From our own research we’ve found that many couples wait for more than two years before seeking fertility treatment. The problem with that is that if you’re 36 and you decide to wait for the average time, you’ll be 38 by the time you seek treatment and your chances of conceiving will have dropped a further 15 per cent.
“We regularly see couples who are struggling to conceive their much wanted child simply because they waited too long. We understand there are many competing priorities these days – career, mortgages and so on – but we just want people to be making educated decisions about when to start their families,” Assoc. Prof Bowman said.
The bottom line is - don’t wait! Get checked out to make sure there isn’t a medical issue that no amount of waiting will fix.
Submitted by Assoc. Professor Mark Bowman
21 May 2017
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