Fertility issues can make you feel isolated, especially if you’re surrounded by friends and family who seem to be able to conceive at the drop of a hat. We’ve pulled together some statistics about infertility and its treatment that you might find surprising – if you’re dealing with infertility, you’re definitely not alone!

  1. Young people don’t realise that fertility decreases with age
    Most young adults in the UK (87%) don’t realise that a woman’s fertility starts to decrease in a woman’s late twenties, according to a survey from patient fertility charity Infertility Network UK. The charity says that the survey, targeted at 16-25-year-old women and men, shows that more attention should be given to fertility education.

  1. Two out of three infertile men don’t know they’re sterile
    This statistic, revealed by medical sociologist Liberty Barnes in her book Conceiving Masculinity, is an interesting one. She argues that confusion can come about because doctors sometimes use possibly confusing references to plumbing, sporting or car mechanics when they break the difficult news to men. A ‘blocked exhaust’ might be a good metaphor, for instance, but it’s not easy to understand exactly what it means medically!

  1. Unexplained infertility accounts for 25-30% of all couples who go for IVF
    Not only that, but many of these couple had been able to conceive at some point before treatment (secondary infertility). So if you’re having difficulty in conceiving and haven’t been able to get a firm answer as to why, be reassured that this isn’t that uncommon.
  2. 2-3% of births each year are through IVF
    According to a study, in developed countries with public health systems 2-3% of births each year are through IVF – this increases to as much as 5% in Denmark and Belgium. In 2013, the UK figure for babies conceived by IVF was just over 2%.

  1. Around 3.5 million people in the UK have difficulty conceiving
    That might be more than you thought: 3.5 million people is around one in seven couples. If you’re struggling to conceive, you’re definitely not alone, as this statistic from the NHS.

  2. In the UK, the average age of women having IVF treatment is 35
    According to the latest available figures (2014), 35 is the average age for having IVF treatment and the average time women try to conceive for before treatment is four years. NHS advice is to talk to your doctor if you’ve been trying for more than a year unsuccessfully
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  1. Sperm counts in adult men halved in the period 1930-1990
    This one may come as a big surprise. The statistic relates to developed countries, including the UK – and it means that during the same period the number of infertile men doubled. The same pattern of declining male fertility has continued until the present day and it’s still a mystery as to why.

  1. Up to a fifth of young men have a low sperm count
    A low sperm count (having fewer than 15m sperm per millilitre of semen – yes, we know that still sounds like a lot!) is a problem for up to a fifth of young men. Did you know, a low sperm count is at the root of around 20% of cases where couples are struggling to conceive and is the most cause of male fertility problems?

  1. Just under 10% of IVF treatments use donated egg and/or sperm
    Looking at the figures for fresh IVF cycles (2013), 5% used donated sperm, 4% used donated eggs and less than 1% used both donated eggs and sperm or donated embryos.

  2. Just 5% of people having fertility treatment are single or in same-sex relationships
    You might be surprised to learn that singles and same-sex couples are still very much in the minority when it comes to opting for fertility treatment. In 2014, 1,015 people having treatment had no registered partner – that’s just 2% – and 1,342 (3%) were female couples.

If that was an eye-opener, you can read lots more about infertility in our blog. And if you’re trying to conceive, why not use our handy ovulation calculator to help keep track of when you’re at your most fertile?

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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