Snapshot of Fertility in Australia
There have been a number of happy and high profile stories in the press recently about older celebrities giving birth to healthy children. Stories like this used to be extraordinary, but they certainly seem to be on the increase.
While this trend is supported by data that shows the fertility rate and numbers of births are increasing for women over 30 and especially for women in their early 40s, women and couples should understand the risks associated with having children later in life.
Interestingly, research from the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) shows that in 2011 a record 12,800 babies were born to women in Australia over the age of 40 – an increase from 7,100 babies born ten years previously.
While this number continues to increase, it’s important to understand that evolution is still yet to catch up with the social realities of this day and age. While a woman’s likelihood of becoming a mother can be delayed due to career aspirations, or taking the time to find ‘the one’, we are still wired to breed in young adulthood.
As we get older, the chances of successfully conceiving decrease.
Studies show that by the time you reach 36, your likelihood of conceiving naturally is half that of a 20 year old. By the time you’re at the age of 41, your chances of natural conception have reduced to just 4%.
Why is this?
While a woman is born with 2 million eggs, these are the only eggs she will ever have. By the time she hits puberty that number has already dropped to 400,000. And as age progresses, the egg quantity and quality continues to decline.
Men are at less of a disadvantage when it comes to age and infertility, but should still be aware that there is a relationship between the two. The fact is, male factors contribute to over 40% of all infertility cases. While some of these issues can be lifestyle related, abnormalities and low counts caused by other issues can play a role, including age.
While we can’t stop or reverse the ageing process, there are positive steps both genders can take to boost fertility and a successful pregnancy.