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What's Your Fertility IQ?

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If you are 30 years old, what is your chance of getting pregnant each month?

A) 70 percent B) 50 percent C) 35 percent D) 20 percent

After listening to our mother's dire warnings during the teenage years on how sperm could practically leap across a hot tub, it's hard to believe that the answer is D. But a 30-year-old woman only has a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month.

And if A was your answer, don't feel like you went to sleep during class. You've been at the same fertility school as a lot of other women, according to the recent Fertility IQ 2011 Survey.

Women's Fertility IQ Is Low

The Fertility IQ 2011 Survey, sponsored by biopharmaceutical firm EMD Serono, Inc., was administered by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, to assess fertility knowledge and prevalent beliefs. The 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. The areas where they had the most trouble were:

  • the length of time it can take to become pregnant (14 percent answered correctly)
  • the likelihood of becoming pregnant across different age groups (8 percent answered correctly)

Only 31 percent of the women responding to the survey questions believed that increasing age is the single strongest risk factor for infertility.

"While these data show that women have a general understanding about fertility issues, there is a clear need to educate further on the impact of age on fertility," explains Barbara Collura, Executive Director of RESOLVE. "It is important for women to know that as you age, it may become increasingly difficult to conceive, and conception rates are not as high as most people believe. At 30, a healthy woman has about a 20 percent chance of conceiving, and by the time a women reaches 40, her chances drop to about 5 percent per month."

Age and Fertility

Approximately 20 percent of women wait until age 35 to start trying to get pregnant, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Even if you feel young in every other way, trying to conceive naturally after age 35 usually takes longer.

In vitro fertilization success rates begin to decline after age 35, too. According to the CDC in 2009 there were 21,860 IVF cycles at U.S. fertility clinics for women age 35-37 using their own eggs and a fresh embryo transfer. Of those, 31.6 percent had a live birth. This is compared to 42,384 IVF cycles in women under 35, and of those, 41.2 percent had a live birth. Live birth rates for women undergoing IVF with their own eggs and a fresh embryo transfer drop to 22.3 percent for women ages 38 to 40; 12.4 percent for women ages 41 to 42; and 4.9 percent for women ages 43 to 44.

Get Knowledge and Seek Help

The survey indicated that women should increase their knowledge about age and fertility and seek help sooner if they are having trouble getting pregnant. In addition to IVF there are many conventional therapies that can treat the majority of infertility issues. The survey found that women's three primary source of infertility information are their Ob/Gyn (49 percent), followed by online sources (37 percent) and family and friends (29 percent).

"Women who are having trouble conceiving should first speak to their Ob/Gyn," Collura says. "However, if they are under the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year or more, or are over the age of 35 and have been trying for six months and still are not getting pregnant, they should move on to a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as possible to increase their chances of having success."

Are you having trouble conceiving? To find a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) in your area, click here.

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