Reasons why fertility awareness and education is so key

Decisions about whether, when and how to have children should be matters of individual choice.

But that choice relies on being aware of the facts and currently fertility awareness remains very low. Women and men may not understand they have fertility options or even realise that 1 in 6 people around the world struggle with fertility issues.

Globally the age of having children for men and women is increasing and the overall fertility rate is decreasing

In the UK in 2013, the average age of first-time mothers was 28.3 years (compared with 26.6 years in 2001) and over half of all live births (51%) were to mothers aged 30 and over (Office for National Statistics, 2013).

People are delaying parenthood for several reasons

It can be for many reasons such as furthering education, pursuing careers, travelling, finding a partner later in life and facing the challenges of feeling secure with finances and housing.

Female fertility declines with age and after the age of 35 years the chances of getting pregnant are reducing

International estimates of infertility prevalence report a figure of 9-15% (Boivin et al., 2007), which makes it common among those of childbearing age. Most couples seek medical advice after 1-2 years of trying to conceive, meaning that fertility issues are the second most common reason for women to visit their GP, after pregnancy (NICE, 2014). Infertility is considered a major public health issue (Macaluso et al., 2010, World Health Organization, n.d) but some people are unaware of their own fertility potential, the constraints on their fertility, the signs, symptoms or preventable causes of fertility problems (Bunting and Boivin, 2010, Bunting et al., 2012, Daniluk and Koert, 2013), or the available assisted reproductive technology that can shape their reproductive lives (Daniluk and Koert, 2013). In particular, there is a lack of awareness of individual variation in terms of how fertility declines with age: one woman may be functionally infertile at 37, another at 44.

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