Most Australians don’t know when fertility starts downhill slide

Download the PDF (50 KB)

Last updated March 2012

Most Australians don’t know when fertility starts downhill slide
Eighty per cent of Australians could not identify the age range when women’s fertility starts to decline, the first comprehensive national survey into fertility knowledge has found.
Most Australians underestimate when fertility in both men and women starts to decline, the survey found. The survey was conducted to inform a new national campaign, Your Fertility. Your Fertility aims to empower those who want children, or want more children, to make lifestyle choices that will help them conceive and have healthy babies.
The Your Fertility website is being launched today (26 March). Four organizations working together as the Fertility Coalition are behind the campaign: the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), Andrology Australia, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute. In the Your Fertility survey, only 20 per cent of Australians could correctly identify that the fertility of women starts to decline when they are in their early 30s. Only 9 per cent of Australians knew that men’s fertility starts to decline post-45. One third of Australians mistakenly believe that men’s fertility declines after 50.
Your Fertility aims to increase Australians’ knowledge about how age and key lifestyle factors affect their ability to conceive and have a healthy baby. As well as a person’s age, being over or underweight, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption can reduce a person’s fertility and put a baby’s health at risk.
The Your Fertility website includes information about each of the key lifestyle factors, plus an ovulation calculator and an opportunity to test your fertility knowledge with the Your Fertility quiz. The Your Fertility blog, available at the site, will keep subscribers up to date with the latest news, research findings and tips about how to increase one’s chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.
The Your Fertility survey found that 30 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women wrongly believe a women’s fertility begins to decline at age 35-39, while nearly 20 per cent of both men and women thought women’s fertility begins to slide off at age 40-44. Your Fertility is a response to an increasing number of Australians having a family later in life and having fertility issues. In 2009, 23 per cent of mothers giving birth in Australia were 35 or older compared with 17 per cent in 2000.

Fertility Coalition spokesperson Louise Johnson said: “The Fertility Coalition wants people to know the facts about their fertility, so they can make informed choices and have a better chance of conceiving and having healthy babies. After 35, the decline in women’s fertility accelerates dramatically, so it’s worrying
indeed that 80 per cent of Australians can’t identify when that decline begins.” “Both men’s and women’s fertility starts to decline earlier than most Australians think it does. As most people want to have children or want more children, fertility knowledge is incredibly important.” Ms Johnson said.
“There’s a reasonable level of awareness that smoking, weight and heavy drinking affect fertility but Australians also need more specific knowledge about these factors.” Fertility Coalition spokesperson Professor Rob Norman said: “The ability to have children and to have healthy children affects both men and women. Men, too, need to know the facts about how age and lifestyle factors affect fertility. “The Fertility Coalition urges Australians who want to have children or want more children to visit our website at and if you’re trying for a baby or plan to soon, see your doctor for a medical check-up.”