With the wonderful news of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting a child in the spring it signifies the every-growing trend that couples are choosing to have children later in life.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (2016) show that the conception rates amongst the 30-34 age group increased by 14.16% between 2006 and 2016, whereas the 20-24 age group saw a decrease of 15.7%. The conception rate for the under 20s dropped by 45.59% but for the over 40s it increased by 10.32% over the same ten-year period. The fertility rate of women aged 40 and over has now more than trebled since 1981. The figures show that even between 2015 and 2016, the conception rates fell amongst every age group except for the 35-39 age range which saw an increase of 1.9%. These results were published on 27th March 2018.
What does this mean for couples choosing to have children much later in life, and what does it also mean for the fertility sector in the UK?
Couples who choose to have children much later in life may well consider all their options first and plan better for the financial cost of bringing up those children. Couples would benefit from undertaking their research at the earliest opportunity and may even consider the freezing of the woman’s eggs, if necessary. It is well known that a woman’s fertility declines after the age of 35 so planning is vital.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and regulates all fertility clinics and providers in the UK. As of March 2017, there were 132 licensed clinics and laboratories in the UK, with the majority providing specialist treatment services covering IVF and embryology. The largest offerings of clinics in the UK are centred in London and the South East. If the trends continue as they are, with women choosing to have children much later in life, then we may well see an increase in the number of clinics across the country, together with the number of family lawyers offering fertility and surrogacy advice.
Having spoken to the HFEA, it is clear that there is an ongoing demand for family lawyers to offer the services of fertility and surrogacy.
For more information, or a preliminary, confidential discussion contact our Fertility expert Anne-Marie Hamer.