Fertility Blog

Math Model Helps with Family Planning

Now, researchers have crunched some numbers and created a mathematical model—the first of its kind—to assist couples in building the family they desire. Results of the study appeared in the journal Human Reproduction.1

The researchers designed a computer model to simulate 10,000 couples trying to get pregnant, taking into account a variety of factors such as the likelihood of fertility problems. The model helps predict the age at which a woman should start trying to conceive. Although male fertility also declines with age, this tends to happen after age 60, so the model focuses on female age.

The age to start trying depends upon the number of children desired, whether or not the couple is open to using in vitro fertilization (IVF)—if needed—and the odds of success the couple is comfortable with.

For example, if a couple wants two children and hopes for a 90 percent probability of success, they should begin trying when the prospective mother is 27. They could delay attempting pregnancy until later if they are able and willing to use IVF or are comfortable with a lower probability of success.

Surveys show that many couples have unrealistic expectations about the limits of their fertility and are postponing building families. Will this “new math” help solve that problem? Only time will tell.

1 Dik J et al. Human Reproduction. doi:10.1093/humrep/dev148.

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