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7 things most men don’t know about fertility

That all-encompassing overwhelming primal urge for children sometime hits like a ton of bricks.

Some men and women say that it hit them like a ton of bricks. They were never prepared to feel such a need, such an all-encompassing overwhelming primal urge for children.

For many, it’s something you never really think about while you are young – you might have a vague plan to have them “sometime in the future”. And it is important to have the discussion with your partner about your expectations for kids early on.

While most of us have been exposed to media attention surrounding the risks of leaving it too late, it’s actually surprising to find out that 9 per cent of healthy couples of reproductive age experience fertility problems.

The causes are variable and equally attributed one-third of the time to the female, one-third of the time to the male, and one-third to unidentifiable reasons or to both partners.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by The Fertility Coalition. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

There is so much information out there and yet we still know so little.

The problem is the many myths surrounding pregnancy and fertility – there is so much information out there and yet we still know so little. Men know less than women about what affects a couple’s chances of having a healthy child.

Age is the single biggest factor affecting a woman’s chances of having a child but research has shown that many men don’t know the age at which women’s fertility starts to decline.

Obviously, when it comes to having children, men need to be on board. They’re going to be just as heartbroken if their desire to be a parent is thwarted, or have to go through the expensive and emotionally draining experience of IVF. And men deserve to know how ageing affects their sperm and potentially, their child’s health too.

Here are seven things most men don’t know about fertility.

1. The age fertility starts to decline. 

With the plethora of Hollywood stars that fall pregnant after they turned 40, most men wouldn’t be alone in thinking it is easy to have a baby at that age. But actually a woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early 30s, speeding up after 35. A 30-year-old woman (who’s trying to get pregnant) has about a 20 per cent chance of conceiving in any given month. By the time she is 40 that chance is down to 5 per cent. Ignore Hollywood. Go with the facts!

2. Mental health concerns.

Whilst absolute risk is small, awareness is important.

Are you aware that a man’s age at fatherhood can affect his child’s mental health? Children of older fathers are at an increased risk of schizophrenia and other mental health disorders, autism spectrum disorders and mental retardation. Children fathered by men over 40 are five times more likely to develop an autism spectrum disorder as children fathered by men under 30. Be aware, though, that the absolute risk is still small.

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Again Hollywood would have us imagine it is nothing to bat an eyelid at when seeing young stars like Kirsty Hinze fall pregnant to her 69-year-old husband. But these concerning mental health stats are worth being aware of.

3. Devastating consequences.

Sadly it’s not just about conception. Age – for both women and men – is a risk factor for miscarriage and stillbirth. Pregnancies with men aged 50 or older have almost twice the risk of ending in fetal death. More than half of women aged 42 or more experience pregnancy loss.

4. Chromosomal abnormalities.

This is another tough one that not many think about when deciding to start a family. In fact, a comparison of women aged less than 30 and older than 40 shows that the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus increases from 1 in 385 to 1 in 63.

5. Getting pregnant.

..time for the fun part!

Now, most blokes think this is the fun bit! But they might not know that as a man ages, the time to get pregnant increases. In one study, after adjusting the data for the woman’s age, conception during a 12-month period was 30 per cent less likely for men over 40 years compared with men younger than 30.

It might be fun to start – but the constant mental grind of are-we-pregnant-yet is wearing for any couple.

6. IVF as a solution.

Is IVF a magic fix? Sadly, not really. Again it’s all about age. A woman’s age has a big impact on the chances of IVF success. The latest data for IVF success in Australia shows a 26.6 per cent success rate (per cycle) for women under 30 and 25.3 per cent success rate for women 30-34, dropping to 17 per cent for women aged 35-39 and 6.6 per cent for women aged 40-44.

7. Planning

Family planning takes on a whole new meaning here – it’s all about talking it through with your partner and having the conversation sooner rather than later.

When you start thinking about having kids, talk to your partner. This will give you both the best chance of not only having children but also having the family size you want.

And lastly, try not to stress about it, try not to engage too much in the on-line forums of magic cures and pseudo science. Talk to your doctor, talk to your partner and get all your male friends informed about fertility.

And here’s some gorgeous sleeping babies in costumes just to put a smile on your face.

What does your man know about his fertility?

Your Fertility is a national public education project. Our aim is to inform all Australians who want to have children about the factors that affect their ability to conceive and have healthy babies.

Watch new videos about how age affects women’s and men’s fertility at www.yourfertility.org.au You’ll also find an ovulation calculator, a preconception health checklist and information about the other key factors that affect your fertility.

The Your Fertility project is run by the Fertility Coalition: the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Andrology Australia and The Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide. Our information is objective and evidence-based.

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