Scientists are hoping a new fertility calculator will prompt women to have children earlier.
Another day, another scientific report about how we’ve all left it too late to have children – or at least more than one, anyway.
New advice suggests that women who’re hoping to have a big family should start trying for their first child at the age of 23 – before most of us even have got our careers on track or found someone serious to get pregnant with.
Scientists looked at fertility data from almost 60,000 women to create an at-a-glance calculator that advises ladies on when you should pregnant. In an ideal world, obviously.
The computer model, published by New Scientist, gives couples an idea of when to start trying for a baby, depending on how many children they would like to have.
Basically, if you’re over the age of 23 and hoping to have more than two kids then you may have a tough time conceiving all three naturally.
As a woman ages, her fertility chances decreases making it harder to conceive naturally.
A woman’s chances are measured in percentages, showing that a 23-year-old woman has a 90 per cent chance of having three children without IVF. At the age of 31, this figure declines to 75 per cent and aged 35 things look even bleaker, with just a 50 per cent of getting pregnant three times naturally.
If you’re happy with just two children, things look slightly better. According to the calculator, you can wait until you’re 27 to start your family and still have a 90 per cent chance of conceiving naturally. At 34 years old, you’ll still be in with a 75 per cent and aged 38 you’ll have 50 per cent chance of getting pregnant without IVF intervention.
Those hoping for one child have the best odds, unsurprisingly. A 32-year-old woman has a 90 per cent chance of conceiving without IVF, a 37-year-old has a 75 per cent chance and a 41-year-old woman is 50 per cent likely to have a baby naturally.
Easier said than done!
The chart also shows how IVF can increase a woman’s chance of getting pregnant – but of course there are a number of risks and side effects that come with IVF, such as ectopic birth, multiple births and Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, a rare complication associated with IVF.
Fertility experts reckon the table should be shown to sixth formers and uni students so that they’re aware of the risks of putting their career first.
“We haven’t got a time machine we can put people in… that’s just a blunt reality,” says Professor Allan Pacey, a Sheffield University fertility expert.
“Everyone thinks you can wait – this shows you can’t.”