Infertility Rising Due to Later Marriage

  • By Hong Jun-ki

    September 05, 2019 08:30

    A growing number of Koreans are being treated for infertility. The CHA Medical Center in Bundang analyzed 2,968 patients who were treated for infertility in 2008 and 2018 and found that a growing number of cases involved decreased ovarian function.

    In 2008, only nine percent of infertility cases were due to decreased ovarian function, but that rose to 37 percent and became the main reason in 2018. Only 22 percent of infertility cases last year were due to problems the husbands had.

    A CHA staffer said, "Decreased ovarian function means a drop in the number of eggs stored in a woman's ovaries. Even with treatment it's not easy for them to conceive." Kwon Hwang at the center said the trend is due to more women marrying later in their lives. In 2008, the average age of first marriage for women was 28.3, but that rose to 30.4 last year.

    The age of first childbirth also rose from 29.6 to 31.6 over the same period. The ages of patients seeking treatment for infertility is also rising, and infertility associated with ovarian function is commonly seen when women surpass 35 years of age.

    "With age it gets more difficult to collect high-quality eggs so the chances of pregnancy decline," Kwon said. Doctors advise women to undergo tests to determine the quality of their eggs before they hit 35. A simple blood test is enough to do this.

    The number of female patients with infertility peaked at 162,921 in 2015 and fell to 135,268 last year but remains above 100,000 a year. Doctors advise freezing eggs at the most fertile age and storing them for future use.

    The number of men suffering from infertility is also rising, from 26,682 in 2008 to 67,270 last year. Men are usually fertile up to their mid-40s, but the level tends to decline with age. A growing number of men are opting to have their sperm frozen too.

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