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New guidance from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is warning Canadian women against postponing pregnancy for too long.

The society says some women may be taking too much time to start their families, perhaps because they inflate their chances of successfully conceiving with fertility treatments, if the need arises.

It says women in their 20s and 30s need better reproductive counselling so that they have an accurate grasp of what waiting does to their chances of conceiving. Female fertility begins to decline significantly in the early- to mid-30s; male fertility also declines with age.

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"Some Canadian women may be inadvertently postponing pregnancy too long," says Kimberly Liu, principal co-author of the new guideline.

"There is a sense that women may be overestimating the potential of assisted human reproductive technologies and underestimating the risks and complications associated with delaying pregnancy."

A lot of women are unaware of the limitations of assisted reproduction, a statement from the society says, as well as the fact that the success rates of these options decline steadily as women hit their late 30s and 40s.

"Fertility treatments aren't a surefire route to pregnancy – their rates of success are greatly influenced by age-related declines in fertility," says Allison Case, Liu's co-author.

"Time can be of the essence for a woman in her 30s who needs assistive reproductive technology. It is important that she gets appropriate treatment for her age."

The society says the proportion of women who delay childbearing beyond the age of 35 has increased significantly in recent decades.

The Canadian Press

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