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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 27 April 2018

Women over 40 show biggest rise in conception rates 

Latest UK data show a trend replicated in the UAE, fertility experts working in Dubai have said

Pankaj Shrivastav, director of Conceive Gynaecology and Fertility Hospital in Dubai, says having children later in life has been made easier and safer with advances in infertility treatments. Satish Kumar / The National
Pankaj Shrivastav, director of Conceive Gynaecology and Fertility Hospital in Dubai, says having children later in life has been made easier and safer with advances in infertility treatments. Satish Kumar / The National

Women in their 40s are the only age group to have a rising conception rate, new figures from the UK show, as more women choose to have children later in life.

For the first time, women in their 40s are now the only group showing increasing pregnancy rates in England and Wales despite it posing a higher risk to mother and baby, with UAE specialists offering the latest advice to boost birth rates in older women.

According to the Office of National Statistics, pregnancies in women aged 40 or above have more than doubled since 1990.

Births to women in their 30s in the UK have also fallen for the first time in the latest data set from the ONS.

In 2016, there were 28,744 births to women in their 40s, a trend of women delaying motherhood to pursue a career first that is also being seen by doctors in the UAE.

“A social and cultural trend across the world is that women are opting to start a family at a later stage in their life,” said Dr Pankaj Shrivastav, director of Conceive Gynaecology and Fertility Hospital, Dubai.

“A few decades ago, having children in your 30s was considered late but today it is deemed early.

“This is definitely one reason we’re seeing more women in their 40s conceiving.

“Of course, advancement in infertility treatment and science has made pregnancies post 40 both easier and infinitely safer.”

Data from the UK has also shown that teenage pregnancies continue to reduce, and have reached another record low.

In 2016, there were 18,076 pregnancies in women under 18 down from 20,351 the previous year.

Women hoping to have children in their late 20s are the most likely to be successful, with 247,147 pregnancies in that age group in England and Wales in 2016, although the conception rate in those aged 25-29 has fallen between 2010 and 2016 to 124.5 births per 1,000 women.

“Rising costs of living all over the world is also discouraging young couples from starting their family in their 20s and 30s,” said Dr Pankaj.

“There is also a definite increase in awareness and conscientiousness about adding more people to an overpopulated world environment which dissuades people from having more than one or two children.”

Infertility is often caused or is a result of several contributing factors occurring in both man and woman simultaneously. Key environmental and lifestyle factors can be addressed to keep a step ahead of infertility and improving the chances of starting a family.

According to fertility specialists, sperm quality has deteriorated over the past 50 years due to water contamination. Experts claim this could also be a result of high pesticide levels, chemicals and hormones from dairy, poultry and livestock farming.

Toxins from the burning of industrial wastes, plastics and exhaust fumes enter the water table and are found to affect quality of egg and production in women, thereby, risking their natural fertility.

Pesticides and hormones found in food produce sold at markets also adversely affect sperms and eggs by acting as hormone opposers, disrupting reproductive mechanisms in our bodies, and causing infertility.

Intense exposure to radiation from certain electrical devices like laptops and other mobile devices have also been found to damage sperm production, as is obesity, smoking and stress according to Dr Pankaj.

“The most notable lifestyle condition that adversely affects fertility rates in men and women is obesity,” he said.

“Obesity in most cases gives rise to diabetes or polycystic ovarian disease.

“Stress or management of stress has been a hot issue for fertility experts and researchers are now implementing holistic attitude towards its treatment.

“It has been scientifically proven that it is a cause and a result if sub fertility and play a great role in fertility issues.

“Stress often triggers a change in the regular hormonal balance. This could make ovulation, menstruation, and conception more difficult. When you are trying to conceive, aim to be as stress-free as possible.”

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Read more:

Fertility at risk as western men’s sperm count plummets by half

Anger over woman who had an IVF baby at 63

Some flavours of e-cigarette liquid affect male sperm count, UK study finds

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Another more common cause of infertility in women is endometriosis, with 40 per cent of women at risk according to doctors at the Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai.

Endometriosis is a benign condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus.

The hospital has launched the emirate’s first support group for women with the condition that is painful and can make it difficult to conceive.

“Endometriosis can take a toll on a woman’s physical and mental health and we want our online group to serve as a platform for interactive sessions between patients and doctors to help women overcome their problems and fears associated with the condition,” said Dr Marlin Mubarak, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Canadian Specialist Hospital.