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Infertility facts thin on the ground -

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ELEANOR HALL: A survey by one of Australia's leading fertility service providers has revealed a
great deal of ignorance among Australian women trying to conceive.

The study by IVF Australia is being presented to a national fertility conference in Brisbane today.

It shows that many women don't know that factors like weight, age and smoking have a major impact
on their fertility.

Donna Field spoke to Professor Michael Chapman from IVF Australia.

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: The surprising finding is these women who are about to embark on an IVF cycle
actually only a third of them believe that weight, excess weight, smoking, alcohol or coffee in
excess might influence the outcome of their quest for fertility let alone their IVF cycle.

DONNA FIELD: Are women also aware or unaware that age is a factor? What did you find among those
women you surveyed?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: Twenty-seven per cent of our surveyed women didn't realise that age would have an
impact on their chances of conceiving.

DONNA FIELD: Is that an alarming finding do you think?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: Well unfortunately it reflects what the general population's knowledge, I mean
there have been a number of studies of fertility in Australia conducted one, two years ago which
showed similar sorts of results. I suppose my concern is that these are actually patients who
aren't in the general population, and they are infertile and they still don't seem to know about
these facts.

DONNA FIELD: So would that suggest that if people actually did more to improve their health, their
weight, stop smoking, then perhaps they wouldn't be infertile?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: That is absolutely correct. All of those individually probably add, say reduce the
chances of a conception by some 25 per cent.

DONNA FIELD: In terms of the study, what did you find about the actual process of making a baby?
Are people aware of what it takes? And when is the right time?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: No, that was what came up in the, we did the knowledge test and about one in five
of the women would have failed the knowledge test.

DONNA FIELD: Would these results point to the fact that we actually don't have as many infertile
couples as we would think? In fact a lot of them are people who just don't know enough about how to
get pregnant.

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: There's certainly many people out there who are trying to get pregnant who don't
know the basics and that certainly would reduce the infertile population. If everyone had the right
knowledge there would be less infertile patients, I would agree with that.

DONNA FIELD: And infertility, the definition is...?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: The definition is 12 months of trying to conceive without success.

DONNA FIELD: Does this point to IVF being a convenient option for people who are just busy and
perhaps haven't taken the time and effort to look into the best way to have a baby?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: I don't know whether we know the answer to that question. Certainly with the media
coverage that IVF gets, women certainly and their partners certainly see IVF as oh well if you
can't get pregnant have IVF and that's a long way from the truth and they really don't know what
they're getting themselves into. There are many other treatments along the way and changing of
lifestyle that will have an impact on improving their pregnancy rate.

DONNA FIELD: How have the figures gone in terms of infertile couples in Australia? Have they
increased dramatically?

MICHAEL CHAPMAN: Probably the infertility rate hasn't changed over the years, I think fertility
rates in Australia have remained fairly stable with one in six couples experiencing that problem at
some point in their lives. But what we're seeing is by delaying child bearing, the take up of
fertility services is much greater than it used to be.

ELEANOR HALL: Professor Michael Chapman from IVF Australia was speaking to Donna Field at the
National Fertility Conference in Brisbane.