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Age-related Fertility Issues are Overstated, Top Midwife Says, But is She Right?

Doctors routinely warn women about age-related fertility issues they might face if they leave it too late, citing problems conceiving and higher risks for the embryo. Prof. Cathy Warwick, who is set to retire later this month after 9 years at the helm of RCM (Royal College of Midwives), however, believes such fears are mostly unfounded.

In 1970, the average age women in the UK had their first child was 23.5. Now it’s 28.6. Furthermore, the number of first-time mothers over 40 had trebled over the last three decades from 4.9 to 14.7 per 1000. But while most fertility specialists urge women to get pregnant sooner rather than later, prof. Warwick says that the increase in risk is negligible even if you have a baby at 45, and that experts shouldn’t be scaring women into early pregnancies.

The Stats

According to a 2004 paper published in the Human Reproduction Journal, 86% women aged 27-34 will have become pregnant within 1 year of trying, compared to 82% of women aged 35-39. Dunson did note a significant drop after 40; however, as David James, who heads the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, stated in 2013, the odds of women over 40 conceiving naturally and delivering a healthy baby have significantly improved over the years that passed since that report was issued.

Meanwhile, The British Fertility Society’s chairman Adam Balen is somewhat less optimistic. He explains that celebrities aren’t exempt from age-related fertility trouble and that those giving birth at later ages often do so with the help of IVF or egg donation. He also added that by not stating so publicly, they give others false hope.

According to research, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities (including Down’s syndrome) rises eightfold from 30 to 40 (from 1:800 to 1:100). The instance of stillbirth amongst women over 40 is 7.6 per 1000, compared to 4.7 per 1000 for mothers aged 30 to 34.

Interestingly, the average age of first-time father has also risen over the last four decades – from 29.4 to 33.1, with 15% of British children being born to dads over 40.

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Our partner clinics

Compass Fertility, based in Canberra, Australia, is lead by Dr. Nicci Sides and offers a boutique style of care, tailoring to the individual FERTILITY needs rather than standard protocols, something that is not offered elsewhere.

Fertility First is based in Hurstville, half an hour’s drive from Sydney CBD. Lead by Dr. Anne Clark, the first specialist in Australia to receive CREI qualification, Anne and the team provide a holistic approach to treatment, with continuity of care throughout your journey.

No1 Fertility is located in Melbourne, Victoria, and is lead by Dr. Lynn Burmeister. The clinic’s focus is to provide the best patient care and fertility treatment at an affordable cost. The clinics have the best and latest technology with state-of-the-art equipment and world-leading scientists.

Repromed Clinic is one of the country’s leading fertility clinics, delivering excellence in their standard of care, innovation, and pregnancy success rates. It is the only IVF clinic in South Australia to offer a complete range of care tailored to your needs, support, and fertility treatment options, onsite at their Dulwich purpose-built facilities.

Coastal IVF is located on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland in Maroochydore. Lead by Dr. Paul Stokes, Coastal IVF’s friendly team provides a wide range of fertility treatments, pregnancy, and general gynaecological services, creating the best experience by offering individualised care tailored to your needs and diagnoses.

The Sydney CBD clinic is Monash IVF’s flagship clinic. With a premium day hospital on site, Monash IVF provide a holistic patient experience where everything is conveniently located under the one roof. The Monash IVF team comprises of a multi-disciplinary team of leaders in reproductive health, including fertility specialists, gynaecologists, fertility nurses, embryologists, counsellors and patient coordinators.

Located within Westfield Shopping Centre, Monash IVF Bondi Junction offers a full service clinic for those living or working in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Our full service clinic provides numerous options and services to women and couples. Monash IVF Bondi Junction comprises a multi-disciplinary team of Fertility Specialists, Fertility Nurses, Scientists, Counsellors and Patient Coordinators, meaning everything is right on your door step.

Located in western Sydney, Monash IVF Parramatta offers a full service clinic for those living or working in the western suburbs of Sydney.Our full service clinic provides numerous options and services to women and couples. Monash IVF Parramatta comprises a multi-disciplinary team of Fertility Specialists, Fertility Nurses, Scientists, Counsellors and Patient Coordinators, meaning everything is right on your door step.

Our clinic in Penrith is a full service clinic offering Fertility expertise to anyone in and around Greater Western Sydney, including: Springwood, Glenbrook, Mount Druitt, Erskine Park or Luddenham. Monash IVF Penrith comprises a multi-disciplinary team of Fertility Specialists, Fertility Nurses, Scientists, Counsellors and Patient Coordinators, meaning everything is right on your doorstep.

Monash IVF Albury offers a consulting location to anyone located in or around Southern New South Wales or Northern Victoria. Monash IVF Albury provides a convenient location to those living or working around Glenroy, East Albury, South Albury and North Albury.

At Monash – Brisbane, our diverse team of experts brings together unparalleled fertility care within your reach. United under one roof, our Fertility Specialists and Patient Coordinators are devoted to providing personalized guidance on your journey towards parenthood.

Our Monash IVF Rockhampton clinic has been a beacon of hope for the Central Queensland community since 2003, catering to those in Port Curtis, Fairy Bower, Gracemere, Alton Downs, and Norman Gardens.

Established in 1998, Monash IVF Gold Coast has been the beacon of hope for single women, couples, families, and LGBTQI couples, eliminating extensive travel to metropolitan Brisbane.