Knowledge about factors that influence fertility among Australians of reproductive age A population based survey

There are considerable knowledge gaps among Australians of reproductive age about the impact on fertility of age, weight, smoking, and timing of sex.


Karin Hammarberg, Ph.D., Tracey Setter, M.P.H., Robert J. Norman M.D., Carol A. Holden, Ph.D., Janet Michelmore Dip, Ed., Louise Johnson Dip, Ed.

Volume 99, Issue 2, Pages 502-507, February 2013



To explore knowledge about the effects on fertility of age, obesity, smoking, and timing of intercourse among Australians of reproductive age.


Telephone survey of a representative sample of Australians.


Not applicable.


Australians aged 18 to 45 years wishing to have a child or another child now or in the future.



Main outcome measure:

Knowledge about the effect on fertility of age, obesity, smoking, and timing of intercourse.


A total of 462 interviews were conducted. The majority of respondents underestimated, by about 10 years, the age at which male and female fertility starts to decline. Only one in four correctly identified that female fertility starts to decline before age 35 while and one in three that male fertility starts to decline before age 45. Most (59%) were aware that female obesity and smoking affect fertility but fewer recognised that male obesity (30%) and smoking (36%) also influence fertility. Almost 40% of respondents had inadequate knowledge of when in the menstrual cycle a woman is most likely to conceive.


Considerable knowledge gaps about modifiable factors that affect fertility were identified. These are targeted in a national education campaign to promote awareness of factors that influence fertility.

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