Fertility – what you should know and when to seek help

| July 4, 2013

An increasing number of couples chooses to delay the decision to have children. Professor Michael Chapman from IVFAustralia delivers the facts about fertility.

In Australia, 1 in 6 couples has trouble conceiving. This figure often surprises people as they don’t realise how common it is to have difficulties trying to fall pregnant. Infertility, which is defined as the inability to conceive a pregnancy after 12 months of unprotected sex, can affect anyone regardless of age, race or socioeconomic group.

Most people will have no idea they are affected until they start trying for a family, as infertility is completely silent, and while there is a common notion that it is mostly a ‘female issue’, in almost 40% of cases infertility is due to male factors like poor sperm production.

Recently in Australia the average age of a first time mum reached 31. This is because more women are seeking a stable relationship with ‘Mr Right’ and financial security, before they decide to start trying for a family.

We typically spend our twenties focussing on contraception, rather than conception, often unaware that the single biggest factor affecting fertility is a female’s age.

Once a woman turns 36, which is the average age of our female patients at IVFAustralia, her chances of conceiving naturally are half what they were when she was 20. By age 41, this chance falls to just 4%.

Females are born with a finite amount of eggs – all the eggs they are ever going to have – and the number of healthy eggs rapidly declines as a woman gets older, and in particular after she reaches 36.

The social shift, with people believing they must ‘have it all’ before they have children, will, I believe, lead to IVF treatment becoming more common for women as time goes on. While IVF success rates are very strong, and we are continually making scientific and medical advances in this area, they too are directly related to a woman’s age and as such decline, especially if she is over 40.

To gain an understanding of you and your partner’s fertility, read through and answer the following questions:

  • Have you being trying to conceive for more than 12 months?
  • Are you or your partner over 35 years of age?
  • Do you have irregular or absent periods?
  • Have you had two or more miscarriages?
  • Prior use of an intrauterine device [IUD]?
  • Do you have endometriosis/painful menstruation?
  • Do you have excessive acne or hirsutism (body hair in female)?
  • Is there a history of pelvic/genital infection in either partner?
  • Do you have problems having intercourse?
  • Have either of you had previous abdominal surgery?
  • Is there a chronic medical condition in either partner (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.)?
  • Is there a history of chemotherapy or radiation therapy in either partner?

If you answer yes to just a few of these questions, you should talk with your GP.



  1. jasminecolland002

    October 21, 2015 at 7:52 am


    Thank you for the guide question, I am also a married woman and have been trying to conceive fr 6 years, I have a schedule of 2nd try for IVF in South Africa since my husband was assigned there. We will have it done at the center named Surgical Bliss, what do you think of the center have you heard of it? Please give me your insight about the clinic and also if there are other options for me. Thank you!