More Women Giving Birth Later in Life and Seeking IVF Support – Hope 103.2

More Women Giving Birth Later in Life and Seeking IVF Support

In June, the 'All About Fertility' expo will provide opportunities for people to speak directly to IVF clinics, fertility coaches, and adoption and foster agencies.

By Amy ChengMonday 3 May 2021Life

The average age of women giving birth has risen gradually over the past few years, with women in their early 30s now the most likely to give birth.

This is true for both first-time mothers and women who had given birth previously, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Ella Mannix was in her 40s when she gave birth, but it wasn’t as straightforward as she thought it would be. Early in her journey, she discovered her husband was infertile.

“I didn’t understand what it meant because you’re brought up thinking ‘OK, I’m going to meet someone, fall in love, get married, have children.’ That was what I thought, I didn’t think anything else in between,” Ella told Hope 103.2.

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the percentage of women having their first child over the age of 30 has risen from 23 per cent in 1991 to 43 per cent in 2011 to 48 per cent in 2016.

Getting information and support

Ms Mannix spent a year researching fertility treatments before finally settling on in vitro fertilisation (IVF). She now wants to help other women on their journey.

In June this year, she will run a virtual expo to help educate and inform people. All About Fertility will have seminary programs and provide opportunities for people to speak directly to IVF clinics, fertility coaches, and adoption and foster agencies.

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Ms Mannix believes the best way to get information and education on this topic is through experts. She is also hoping that people will walk away from the expo knowing they are supported throughout their journey.

For women under 35, health experts recommended they seek assistance after trying to conceive for a year without success. For women over the age of 35, they should seek help after six months.

Importance of good health

During her year of research, Ms Mannix learnt about the importance of good health when trying to conceive, which most people are often not aware of.

“Women and men’s health is not really discussed. We don’t discuss fertility unless you’re in that age bracket where you’re trying to conceive, that’s when the whole world of fertility opens up to you,” she said.

“We don’t discuss fertility unless you’re in that age bracket where you’re trying to conceive, that’s when the whole world of fertility opens up to you,” – Ella Mannix, All About Fertility expo organiser

She recommends that women get a health check to ensure their vitamin levels are good and there are no other health conditions.

“Just with a new job or your education, you’re going to investigate every aspect of it, you look at what your career plan will be, what you need to study, where you want to work, so why wouldn’t you prepare yourself in order to have a healthy child?” Ms Mannix said.

When to seek help?

Couples who have been trying to conceive without success should consider the age of the woman.

For women under 35, health experts recommended they seek assistance after trying to conceive for a year without success. For women over the age of 35, they should seek help after six months.

They can begin by seeing a fertility specialist, who can conduct simple fertility tests to find out what’s happening and discuss available options.

The treatment options are varied and include ovulation cycle tracking, artificial insemination, IVF, fertility surgery and advanced science such as pre-implantation genetic testing for genetic conditions.

“I didn’t understand what it meant because you’re brought up thinking ‘OK, I’m going to meet someone, fall in love, get married, have children.’ That was what I thought, I didn’t think anything else in between.” – Ella Mannix

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

IVF is probably the most well known treatment but is usually the last option. The process involves removing mature eggs from the ovaries, which are fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. One or two fertilised eggs are then implanted into the woman’s uterus.

It is a costly process that can range from $9000 to $15,000 for one cycle, according to Canstar. If couples are unsuccessful after the first cycle, they will need to do another cycle or more.

Medicare and private health insurers can cover some of the costs associated with IVF but there are still out-of-pocket costs.

The NSW Government has invested in three high quality, government-supported IVF clinics that include The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital IVF clinic, The Fertility and Research Centre at The Royal Hospital for Women and The Westmead Fertility Centre.

Under this initiative, eligible women and men need to have been assessed by an IVF clinic clinician to determine that IVF treatment is clinically appropriate for them.

Managing expectations

One of the challenges in Ms Mannix’s journey was keeping her expectations in check.

“Look, some days are crap, some days aren’t… Mindset is really important. [Don’t] look in the mirror and beat yourself up. We can be pretty unkind to ourselves when things are not going right,” she said.

“You wouldn’t take that from your spouse or your partner or your colleague or your friend. You wouldn’t allow them to talk to you like that, so why should we talk to ourselves in that manner instead of uplifting ourselves?”