What Australian women know about fertility | Women's Agenda

What Australian women know about fertility

Partner content, provided with the support of Genea. 

What chance does a woman under the age of 35 who’s having regular, unprotected sex have of getting pregnant naturally each month?

Well according to almost half (49%) of the Australian women we recently surveyed, it’s an 11 to 25% chance – which is about right for most sexually active females under 35, according to fertility specialists Genea.

But our survey also revealed 33% of women believe it was more like a 25 to 50% chance, while 17% believe women under the age of 35 have a more than 50% chance of getting pregnant each month. These figures are a fair way off the mark and that’s concerning because women need the facts to help them make decisions about their lives.

Because we believe knowledge is power, we conducted this poll of more than 400 Australian women last month in partnership with Genea to gauge exactly how much we know about fertility, as well as what we think about the new trend of employers offering ‘fertility perks’.

Most respondents seem to accept that women over the age of 35 are less likely to get pregnant each month than younger women, with 57% giving such women who are having regular, unprotected sex a less than 10% chance of falling pregnant, and 32% saying 11 to 25%. The reality is that women aged 36 have at most 15% chance of getting pregnant naturally each month and by the time they hit 39 that chance has dropped below 10%.

The survey also found that 61% of respondents believe you’re most likely to get pregnant (if having regular, unprotected sex) on day 11 to 14 of your cycle, while 23% said it was day 15 to 19. The key to knowing which days you’re likely to get pregnant lies in knowing your cycle. If you have a regular cycle of 28 days, then you will ovulate mid-cycle or 14 days after day one of your previous period. There are a multitude of calculators out there to help you decipher your likely ovulation dates including this one by Genea: http://www.genea.com.au/my-fertility/trying-to-conceive/natural-conception/timing

As for what can help with getting pregnant, 43% agreed or strongly agreed that “a couple should have unprotected sex every 48 hours if they’re trying to conceive a baby”, while 60% said “the general health (regardless of age) of a couple having unprotected sex will determine whether they can conceive a baby.” General health is very important but it’s also true that some causes of infertility will stop you conceiving no matter how fit and healthy you are so you should always speak with a Fertility Specialist if it’s not working.

Fifty five per cent said a couple should try for six to twelve months before seeking professional help, while 28% suggested waiting twelve to 18 months. Genea says they’re often asked this question and their advice is to seek help after 12 months of unprotected sex if you’re under 35 and after six months of unprotected sex if you’re over 35.

When it comes to egg freezing, 47% said a woman interested in doing this should do so between the ages of 26 and 30, while 33% said 31 and 34. Just 15% suggested doing this at age 21 to 25, and another 6% said 35 to 39. Genea says a woman’s fertility peaks at age 22 and gradually declines, before falling significantly after the age of 35.

As for men’s fertility, respondents agreed that it too declines, especially after the age of 35. Twenty nine per cent said it declines aged 35-39, while 25% said it happens between 40 and 44, and 32% after 35. In Australia, and in fact around the world, four in 10 cases of infertility can be attributed to the male partner.  While it doesn’t attract the same media attention as the time limit on female fertility, age does impact both men’s fertility and the health of any resulting children.  As nominated by our survey respondents, age gradually begins to have an impact on male fertility from the age of 35, with increased levels of sperm DNA damage, poorer testicular function and a small increased risk of passing on birth defects and disease. From the age of 45, that decline in fertility and increase in issues becomes more abrupt.

And what do Australian women make of employers offering ‘fertility perks’ as staff incentives, like some major organisations are doing in the United States? While some suggested they might be put off by such options, around 28% said ‘fertility perks’ would have been, or could be, attractive to them at some point in their careers. Almost half (47%) of respondents agreed we’ll start to see more such employment options in the future.

The survey also found that women have a lot of questions about fertility and there’s still plenty of confusion about the topic. We received more than 100 such questions, and aim to answer them with the help of doctors from Genea in the coming months.

430 women answered the five minute poll, promoted on Women’s Agenda and on social media, with 75% of respondents aged 26 to 40. While 30% of respondents said they’re thinking about starting a family in the next 12 months, 46% said they’re not thinking about starting or growing a family.

Speak with Genea’s fertility advisor or book a free fertility assessment.

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