Fertility is Ageist campaign media release 2014

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Last updated 2014

Media release – embargoed for release until 7am, Monday, March 17

Misconceptions can mean missed conception
Focus groups run by the Fertility Coalition as part of the Your Fertility project have revealed
misconceptions in the community that could affect couplesʼ aspirations to have a family, or the number of children they want. Asked ʻHow old is too old to have a baby?ʼ, some responses were:
• ʻI donʼt think you can be too old. I think itʼs up to the individual and how they feel.ʼ
• ʻI think itʼs health more than age.ʼ
• ʻIt depends on the person.ʼ
The focus group comments reflect findings of a national Fertility Coalition survey that revealed 80% of Australians did not know women’s fertility starts to decline in the early 30s. A third of women and more than half the men surveyed thought women’s fertility started to decline at 40, that age didn’t affect fertility or they didn’t know when fertility starts to decline. ʻThe misconception that you can have a healthy child at any age may have emerged from comforting messages that donʼt take into account biological reality and the latest research,ʼ Fertility Coalition spokesperson Louise Johnson said.
Today the Fertility Coalition released two new videos at www.yourfertility.org.au with reproductive biologists talking about the effect of age on fertility for men and women. The video ʻWomen, age and fertilityʼ features researcher Dr Melanie McDowall, from Fertility Coalition partner the Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide. Laureate Professor John Aitken from the University of Newcastle presents the ʻMen, age and fertilityʼ video. The videos are part of a national public education project, Your Fertility, which aims to inform all Australians about the key factors that affect their ability to conceive and have healthy children. This month the Your Fertility project is focusing on the impact age has on fertility with a ʻFertility is ageistʼ social marketing campaign. Ms Johnson said the belief that good health will ʻtrumpʼ a womanʼs age does not factor in the reality that a woman is born with all the eggs she will have in her lifetime and these age with her. While good health will help with conception and having a healthy baby, age is the single biggest factor affecting a womanʼs fertility.
A womanʼs fertility starts to decline in her early 30s, with the decline speeding up after 35. At 40, a
woman has a 5% chance of conceiving in any given month. Maternal and paternal age can both be
risk factors for miscarriage and stillbirth.
Success stories for older celebrities have contributed to the misconception that IVF will help
couples to have a baby at any age. The reality is that for every initiated IVF cycle in 2011, only
6.6% Australian women aged 40-44 who were using their own eggs had a baby. For women over
45 the success rate was 1.2%. Recent research has also highlighted the risks of older men fathering children. A University of Queensland study of the health records of 2.9 million people showed that children of older fathers were at increased risk of schizophrenia and other mental health disorders, autism spectrum disorders and mental retardation. A man’s fertility starts to decline at 40. ‘We’re aware that age is something you can’t control, and not everybody wants children or is in a position to have a child,’ Ms Johnson said. ‘But we want people to know the facts so they can make informed choices. If your relationship is ready, have the conversation about having a family sooner rather than later.’

The Fertility Coalition is the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, Jean Hailes for
Women’s Health, Andrology Australia and the Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide.
Your Fertility is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. For further information
visit www.yourfertility.org.au.