fertility rates

What Do Declining Fertility Rates Mean?

The number of children being born is going down, according to the latest figures. Fertility rates all over the world are showing a ‘remarkable decline’, leaving some countries facing the possibility of having an insufficient number of children to sustain their populations. It’s come as a surprise to researchers, who are worried that there could be more grandparents than grandchildren in the future. So what do the figures tell us?

What does the decline in fertility rates mean?

The term ‘fertility rate’ refers to the number of children a woman has in her lifetime, rather than the rate of fertile women. Fertility rates have been in decline for more than 50 years, although the rate varies all over the world. In the 1950s, women were having around 4.7 children, by 2017, the rate had fallen to 2.4.

In some countries, the rate continues to be high, with women in Niger having 7.1 children on average. In the UK, however, the rate is 1.7, which is in line with other countries in Western Europe. Experts say that any rate under 2.1 can lead to a shrinking population. Lower fertility rates are apparent in many European countries, the United States, South Korea and Australia.

What’s behind it?

There are a number of reasons behind the decline in the fertility rate. Some of the reasons include:

  • Better access to contraception
  • Fewer deaths in childhood meaning women have less children.
  • More women working and in education.

While the news is welcome in this respect, the impact on populations could be significant, with a shrinking workforce and an ageing population. In many countries, this has been remedied by migration – something that wouldn’t be relevant on a global scale.

You and your fertility

Of course, low fertility rates can also be caused by fertility problems. As more women have children in later life, there can be issues with conceiving which means women have fewer children than they would have had a few decades ago.

Fertility problems are diagnosed when a couple try to conceive but are unsuccessful in doing so. It affects around 1 in 7 couples in the UK. There are several potential reasons behind infertility, and different treatments available, including assisted conception with IVF. Factors such as age, smoking, being overweight, STIs, and drinking too much can all contribute to infertility in both men and women. Living a healthier lifestyle can help you boost your chances if you’re looking to conceive, particularly self-care. If you’re concerned about your ability to conceive, you should make an appointment with your GP.

Fertility support in East Berkshire

If you’re worried about infertility, there are support services in East Berkshire that can provide you with help and advice. There is information on IVF treatments to help you discover which options are available to you, whilst The Fertility Network features peer-led groups that can provide you with support from people with similar problems as well as those who have gone through fertility treatment. The Royal Berkshire Hospital also has its own fertility clinic where you can be referred after a year of trying to conceive.

Fertility issues can be difficult to deal with, but your GP is there to offer advice and support in the first instance. If you’re at all concerned about your fertility, make an appointment with your GP to discuss your options.