Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health Looks at Reproductive Health
The latest edition in the ongoing Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health has been released, focussing on women’s reproductive health. The ground-breaking Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health, now in its 16th year, has conducted four surveys over time on the same set of 40,000 women drawn from three age groups of cohorts.
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24 January 2010
The latest edition in the ongoing Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health was today released, focussing on women’s reproductive health.
The ground-breaking Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health, now in its 16th year, has conducted four surveys over time on the same set of 40,000 women drawn from three age groups of cohorts.
Women in the youngest age group – born between 1973 and 1978 – were aged 18 to 23 when the first survey was made and 28 to 33 years when Survey 4 was conducted in 2006.
The 2009 report, reveals that 91 per cent of the younger women wanted to have children. While the most common desire was for two children, the number of women aiming for just one child increased over time, as they grew older.
The report found that infertility and pregnancy losses were very common. Among women who had tried to conceive or had been pregnant, one in six had experienced infertility for 12 months or more.
In addition, more than half of the women who reported a pregnancy outcome in Survey 4 had lost a pregnancy. More than one third (39 per cent) of women who had a live birth at any time before 2006, also reported a pregnancy loss.
The most significant factors associated with infertility were polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis and miscarriage.
Marriage remains on the agenda for most of the younger women, and this has remained consistent since the first survey in 1996 when they were aged 18 to 23. Women who hoped for marriage were more likely to want two or more children compared to other women.
Other reproductive issues examined in the 2009 Women’s Health Australia report include contraception, fertility problems, maternal health including postnatal depression, and taking part in paid work.
The Australian Government has recognised the need for better support for women who are or who want to become mothers on a number of fronts including:
- improving choice and access to maternity services through a $120.5 million package of measures services, funded in the 2009-10 Budget
- supporting a National Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Alliance with funding of $1.134 million, including development of world-first guidelines on caring for women with the syndrome
- developing a new National Women’s Health Policy
- introducing the nation’s first comprehensive, statutory, Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme, to enable to parents to spend more time with their babies during the vital early months.
A copy of the study can be found at www.health.gov.au from Monday. Copies of the report can be sent by calling the number below.
For any inquiries, please contact National.Womens.Health.Policy@health.gov.au.
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