One in six American couples experiences fertility problems and according to the Department of Health. There is an increasing occurrence of infertility in the US.
But why are fertility rates decreasing? Are the causes scientific, social or a bit of both?
The truth is: fertility struggles have been experienced in every generation, fertility rates have been declining due to a range of social and medical factors. But infertility in the majority of the western world, starts with social factors, which can then lead to health-related and biological factors.”
While we certainly don’t know all the reasons for the declining fertility rate, we do see age, lifestyle and the environment all having a significant impact.
Here are some things that we have noticed:
We are having babies at a significantly older age than before.
According to the 2019 Health and Welfare report, babies are increasingly likely to be born to older mothers.
In 2019, the average age of all women who had babies was 28 years, up from 25 years a decade earlier. In addition there has been a slide in women under 25 giving birth, and an increase in women over 35 giving birth.
Over the same 10-year period, the average age of first-time moms also increased by almost a year, to 28.9 years.
This is a complex, societal trend, and not as straightforward as women simply choosing to have children later as is often reported in the media both men and women are staying in formal education for longer periods, are entering marriage and partnerships later, and in turn are starting families later too.
While some women choose to have children later, it’s often not the women’s choice at all, but rather a societal expectation that women now can, or should, have children later, there has been a change in society’s expectations of women, and a lack of support for women to become mothers earlier in life.
Male partners can often delay the decision to have children because there’s a lack of urgency for them. While the age at which people are having children is increasing, the biology of conception hasn’t changed, and the chances of conception for women decrease quickly after 35.
By the age of 43 the chances of a woman conceiving with her own eggs is about 5%, and by 45 that chance decreases to 1%.
While IVF is an excellent option for those who are unable to conceive naturally, it cannot overcome the problem of having older eggs.
Endometriosis or fibroids may become more of a problem as a woman gets older too, and will also interfere with fertility.
The environment also plays a part in fertility.
Fertility doesn’t stop with the woman. Our men are at risk as well. A recently released 38-year study also showed that sperm count has declined significantly since the 1970s, which suggests both environmental and lifestyle factors.
We are also becoming increasingly aware of other environmental factors such as men using laptops, overheating and environmental factors including plastics, but these are harder to quantify and more research is needed to fully understand their impact.
Our lifestyle has a high impact.
In addition to age and environmental factors, the average person’s lifestyle is also reducing the general fertility rates.
Smoking, and weight, and products you are consuming are known to have the biggest impact on fertility and the chances of conception.
Poor nutrition, increased BMI, smoking, excessive alcohol and drug use are major factors contributing to infertility. But these factors are controllable, and we see many patients every year, who are able to conceive with very little assistance once they have made lifestyle modifications.
Taking things in the right direction.
Although fertility rates are decreasing, there are also more choices available for people experiencing fertility problems.
Our advice for anyone who is concerned about getting pregnant, is to address your concerns sooner than later. Focus on being as healthy as possible, and build a lifestyle that supports this concern. Practices like
We see a lot of people who wait too long, and when it comes to conception, timing is everything.Brands like Luxury Yoni have actually taken this initiative a step further with the concern for fertility. The Trying to Conceive Kit is truly a fertility boost. This combo includes 6 products and was designed to assist women who are trying to conceive and to help create a healthy womb for pregnancy. Women who are trying to have a baby are encouraged to use these products until they conceive.