RENO, Nev. A new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows more women are seeking medical attention to help them get pregnant.
The findings come from the CDC's National Survey of Family Growth, which was conducted between June 2006 and June 2010. More than 12,000 women were interviewed; some had fertility problems, others didn't.
The CDC's definition for 'seeking medical help' is fairly broad. It can include anything from seeking advice and infertility testing, to artificial insemination.
But the study found that 12.5% of women sought help which is up from the 11.2% in 1995 which was when the last study was conducted.
It also highlights the trend that more women are delaying child birth until their mid to late 30's. The rise may be due to an increased access to birth control, or that more women in their 20's are choosing to focus on their careers and delay child birth.
The percentage of women between 30 and 34 receiving help to get pregnant rose slightly to 11.1% from 10% in 1995. The share of women 35 to 39 getting medical help for pregnancy rose to 16.4% from 14.3%.
The CDC says the report "may partly reflect the greater delays in childbearing over this time period." They say the women they studied between 2006 and 2010 "were more likely to be older than women in 1982 when trying to have their first child, and also more likely to use services beyond age 44."
In 1982, the average age of a woman during her first pregnancy was about 23.
Now that average age has risen to 26, but at the Nevada Center for Reproductive Medicine, Doctor Scott Whitten says they've slowly seen an increase of more women coming in for at least a consultation.
"I think there's a misconception in a lot of patients that they can wait later in life, and not have any difficulties," he said. "Usually in your mid-30's around age 34-35 there's a significant decline in a woman's ability to get pregnant."
A normal, healthy 30-year-old woman's chance of getting pregnant is about 20% per month. By age 40, that chance declines to about 5%.
"Unfortunately there's a lack of awareness among women about what's going on with their reproduction as women age, and I think we are really deficient on providing that information," Dr. Whitten said.
Dr. Whitten says many women think they can have children on their own timetable without realizing how difficult it can be as they age.
"By the time you reach 40, it can be very difficult to become pregnant and the options to get pregnant become somewhat limited," Dr. Whitten said.
He says there are plenty of options available to women if they plan ahead. He says it's okay for women to delay pregnancy if they understand the risks and have a plan in place for the future. He recommends women speak with their gynecologist at their annual visit about options available.