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Young people don’t know how much age affects their chances of parenthood, survey says

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New research came to light that raises awareness about why do young people put off their first pregnancy. The research that was conducted by the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne University and Victoria’s IVF regulator showed that the time starts running out much sooner than many people think.

The survey of 1,215 students from the University of Melbourne found less than 50% could pick the age period when fertility in women declines significantly — for the record, it’s 35 to 39 years old, while fewer than one in five students could pick when men reach the twilight of their fertility years — between the ages of 45 and 49.


The reasons that were pointed out had to do with some “unrealistic expectations” of what young people want to achieve before having children.

The paper’s lead author, Eugenie Prior, says it’s a worrying precedent.

Most of the university students she interviewed admitted that they really want to be parents one day.

“But there’s so many things that they want to achieve before they have children,” Dr Prior said.

“They want to be advanced in their profession, they want to be financially stable, they want to travel, they want to be in a stable relationships,” she said.

Those ambitions exist in contradiction to the biological reality that many young people face.

“Fertility is one of those things that does have finite limits, even with all the medical technology that we have,” Dr Prior said.

“We still know that fertility does decline and … maybe it’s not realistic to achieve all of those things before you actually have children.”

The study shows some big relation between those choices and the trends being seen in the fertility industry.

“More and more patients are presenting later in life to plan a family and often to plan their first baby over the age of 35,” said Raelia Lew, a fertility specialist and one of the paper’s co-authors.

She said there was a dangerous misconception over the use of IVF, because it is not a cure for age-related fertility problems.

“We’re not fundamentally doing anything in IVF that reverses, treats or assists the process of egg deterioration that happens with advancing age,” she said.

Something that the people may not think when they decide to postpone parenthood because of the IVF existence, is that it’s no guarantee of success.

“We all read the magazines and newspaper articles about miracle babies, but for many IVF treatment isn’t successful and age is something that IVF treatment will not necessarily cure,” Louise Johnson from the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, said.

“You’ve got to prioritise things that are meaningful to you,” Dr Lew said.

“If it’s really important to …have children in their future, think about how that might happen and the context that it might happen,” she said.

“It’s something that can really save a lot of heartache later on”, she concluded.





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