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Simple Question: How Do You Make a Baby?

by Leigh Ann Woodruff, March 26, 2012

It's a simple question, right? How do you make a baby?

When Reproductive Science Center of New England (RSC) did men and women on the street interviews asking that very question in Providence, Rhode Island, most people answered with one word: "Sex."

Well, yes, but ... it's a bit more complicated. There's ovulation and timing intercourse for conception. And most people are not as aware as they should be about the role that age plays in fertility, and they are surprised when they do not get pregnant easily.

“Women and men of child-bearing age think pregnancy is easy," says Isaac Glatstein, M.D., a fertility doctor and associate medical director at RSC."Age is a dominating factor when it comes to fertility. By age 35, about 11 percent of women will have an infertility issue; that increases to 33 percent between age 35 and 40.”

To help educate men and women about fertility and the fact that age matters, RSC is producing "How to Make a Baby," an online talk show that will follow the journeys of two young couples. These past patients at RSC New England tell their stories about how and when they had planned to start a family; how they tried to get pregnant and were surprised when it wasn’t working; their interactions with their Ob/Gyn, their eventual referral to a fertility doctor, the diagnosis, fertility treatment and success. The program will be broadcast online on April 18 and June 6 at 7 p.m..

"Education about age and infertility is very important, which is why we have produced the 'How to Make a Baby' web-events," says Dr Glatstein. "We plan to continue the program and will focus on other areas needing more education."

A 2011 EMD Serono survey of more than 1,000 women ages 25-35 found that women could answer seven out of 10 fertility questions correctly less than 50 percent of the time and that 78 percent of these women had never discussed age as an infertility factor with their Ob/Gyn. And it's not just in the United States that people are unaware of the effect of the biological clock. A recent survey by Australia's Fertility Coalition found that 80 percent of Australians were unaware of the age at which a woman's fertility was reduced, and less than 10 percent of Australians knew that a man's fertility declines after age 45.

“Nearly one third of the couples who come to us for help getting pregnant, have waited too long,” says Dr. Glatstein. "While we treat women ranging from their early 20s to mid 40s, the average age of our patients is 36 years old. Between the ages of 35 to 40, it is common for about 33 percent of women to have fertility challenges."

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), approximately 20 percent of women wait until age 35 to start trying to get pregnant. And it's important to realize that in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates for women using their own eggs decrease with age — dropping from a 41.2 percent live birth rate for women under 35 to 31.6 percent for women ages 35 to 37, 22.3 percent for women ages 38 to 40, 12.4 percent for women ages 41-42, and 4.9 percent for women ages 43 to 44, according to 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because the biological clock ticks away so quickly, time is of the essence when trying to get pregnant. Get educated and get in to see a fertility doctor sooner rather than later. "Many women are not aware of the standard guidelines that women under 34 should seek specialty medical care when they have tried to get pregnant with unprotected intercourse for a year," Dr. Glatstein says, "35 and over there is a six-month guideline; and 39 and over, after trying for three months."

Have you been having trouble conceiving? Is it time to find a fertility doctor or fertility clinic to help family-building journey? Just click on the links below to find one near you!

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