During Fertility Week (September 3-9), City Fertility Centre specialist Dr David Wilkinson is keen to raise community awareness of the key factors that impact on fertility.

Dr Wilkinson said based on current evidence, age, obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption were the biggest factors that could influence the chance of falling pregnant and having a healthy baby.

In addition, he said, many common medical issues could impact on fertility, including endometriosis, ovulation disorders and blockages, but they were mostly treatable.

“Just as people plan travel, careers and weddings, they can also plan for a family,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“Individuals and couples should plan ahead and make informed and timely decisions regarding childbearing to prevent infertility and involuntary childlessness.

“The fact is that one in six couples have trouble falling pregnant.”

Dr Wilkinson said age was one of the top reasons why people had trouble conceiving, as fertility declined as age increased. He said women were most fertile in their 20s, but due to a change in lifestyle, many people were delaying having children until after this age.

Official figures show the average maternal age in Australia has now reached 30.

Dr Wilkinson said while the age clock could not be wound back, people could take other steps to optimise their fertility, including simple things such as managing their weight, exercising and following a healthy diet.

Fertility Fit Tips:

  • Follow a healthy, balanced diet that provides adequate protein, carbohydrate and fibre.
  • Aim to undertake moderate exercise for an average of 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Take folic acid for the three months before and the first three months of pregnancy (females only).
  • Restrict alcohol intake.
  • Stop smoking and any drug use.
  • Check your medications/supplements intake with your doctor.
  • Limit caffeine consumption.

As a general rule, Dr Wilkinson said you should seek the help of a fertility specialist if you are under 35 and have been unsuccessfully trying to fall pregnant for 12 months, or if you are over 35 and have been unsuccessful after six months of trying to conceive.

According to recent figures, the number of babies born as a result of assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment is nearing 5 million worldwide. The first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in England 34 years ago, in July 1978.

For further information on fertility, visit www.cityfertility.com.au (City Fertility Centre) or http://yourfertility.org.au/ (Fertility Week).