The average age of new mums in Australia has steadily increased over the years, with declining pressure on young women to start a family ASAP. However, a new survey by the Royal Women's Hospital has found that only 45 percent of women and 38 percent of men know the age when a woman’s fertility drops significantly. FYI it’s between 35 and 39 years old.
The study of 1,215 students from the University of Melbourne also discovered that only one in five people knew when male fertility starts to decline – between the ages of 45 and 49.
Both female and male participants reported that having children was important to them and many wanted to complete their families before a fall in fertility happened. The survey found that women were more likely than men to rate completing their studies, furthering their careers and finding a job that can be balanced with parenthood as priorities before falling pregnant.
But researchers say that their expectations to achieve many other life goals before having kids might be unrealistic.
"University students overwhelmingly want to be parents one day. However, most also have unrealistic expectations of what they want to achieve before having children, whether that be in their career or financially," Eugenie Prior, the paper’s lead author, said.
"We need to educate young people about the limits of fertility and support them to become parents at a point that is ideal biologically, while balanced against the life goals they want to achieve."
Researchers also warned that relying on IVF isn’t a silver bullet for age-related fertility issues.
"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, study co-author, told the ABC.
"Age is one of the most important factors when conceiving and women are less likely to conceive in their 40s because they don’t ovulate eggs with the potential to make babies as often as women do in their 20s," fertility expert Dr Sonya Jessup previously told Women's Health. "In fact, on average women aged 40-43 will produce one egg a year with the ability to make a baby. Getting pregnant when you are still in your 30s is easier both naturally and gives you a far greater success rate with IVF cycles, so start earlier."