When you struggle to conceive, it can feel like a solitary experience. That said, you are not alone with increasing numbers of fertility issues amongst both men and women. But what are the facts behind the headlines? As the best IVF Clinic, we look at three reasons why infertility rates might be on the rise.
Infertility rates today
The Office of National Statistics report revealed that the birth rate in England and Wales was 11.5 live births per 1000 population. That is compared to 20.5 births in 1947. And, according to the NHS, one in seven couples is now experiencing difficulties in conceiving. Overall, it is estimated that around 15% of couples are affected by infertility around the world.
Main reasons why rates may be on the rise
Modern living and social trends could well be behind the apparent rise in infertility around the globe. Here are three key factors identified:
We are starting families later
As we know, fertility declines with age. Delaying motherhood until later is certainly why infertility rates may be on the rise. Many women are not looking to start a family until their mid to late 30s. There is a focus on establishing careers and financial stability, then later settling down with a partner. By this time, their fertility is already on the decline. The same applies to men, as their sperm quality will also start to decline around 40. By the age of 40, a woman only has a 5% chance of naturally falling pregnant each month, compared to 20% for a 30-year-old.
Male fertility, in particular, is vulnerable to external and environmental factors. This impacts the quality of their sperm, particularly as they get older. Heat, chemicals, toxins, including exposure to plastics, pesticides, and solvents in particular are known to impact sperm quality. Meanwhile, prolonged exposure to X-ray and radiation can temporarily reduce sperm count and quality. Unfortunately, there with the potential for it to become permanent.
The way we live can also contribute to the general reduction in fertility rates. Smoking and being overweight or with a high BMI (body mass index) can impact natural conception. Insufficient nutrition and being significantly underweight equally cause problems. Excessive alcohol intake and drug misuse are also potential triggers for infertility. Extreme or prolonged levels of stress also reduce an individual’s sex drive and affect sperm production and female ovulation.
The good news about lifestyle factors is that we can choose to influence and modify our behavior to reduce the risk posed to our fertility rates and our chances of having a baby, whether naturally or with clinical assistance via IVF.
What you can do
If you are worried, you may have left it too late to get pregnant or are concerned about infertility. Then it is essential to get advice and explore your options with your GP or local fertility clinic. You can also take steps to improve your chances of conceiving by avoiding smoking and alcohol, taking care of your fitness, and maintaining a healthy weight. And if you are considering or looking to start fertility treatment, then addressing and managing the three key factors in this guide can significantly help to increase your IVF success rate.