Survey of community perceptions vs reality reported to the Fertility Society of Australia Conference in October 2006 in Canberra reveals that 88% of men and 57% of women aged 30-40 believe they will have no problem conceiving.
Yet we know that 1 in 6 couples experience fertility problems, and a medical cause cannot always be determined.

In summary

Women’s Fertility

  • women are born with all the eggs they will ever have :1-3 million eggs
  • only 3-400 eggs will ovulate, the remainder simply degenerate
  • rate of degeneration varies between individuals. So biological age does not always equate with chronological age
  • chance of pregnancy in any month is best before 25 and fertility starts to decline after 30
  • at 35 the chance of conceiving is half that at 30 and at 40 is half that at 35
  • numbers and quality of eggs drop at least 10 years before fertility is lost

Men’s Fertility

  • male fertility declines from 35
  • genetic material in sperm deteriorates with poor lifestyle
  • associated with higher risk of miscarriage and birth abnormalities

1 in 6 couples experience fertility problems

  • 30% is solely a male factor
  • 30% is solely a female factor

Ovarian reserve refers to the number of good quality eggs (oocytes) left within the ovaries.

  • As the number of eggs drops, so does egg quality - an important cause of infertility
  • A significant proportion of infertility is due to a reduction in ovarian reserve
  • This becomes more common as a woman ages
  • Egg numbers and quality drops at least 10 years before fertility is lost
  • Approximately 12% women, with regular unprotected intercourse, will not conceive after age 32 years
  • IVF is not a cure for low ovarian reserve
  • Ovarian reserve diminishes even with healthy lifestyle

Risk factors for reduced ovarian reserve

  • Family history of early menopause
  • Significant surgery (eg for endometriosis, salpingectomy).
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Smoking
  • Diet (vegetarian, no alcohol)
  • Past pelvic infection
  • Cancer therapy-chemotherapy, radiotherapy
  • Genetic abnormalities