The number of in vitro fertilization procedures performed in Shanghai is rising by about 10 to 15 percent annually and reached around 50,000 last year, according to a leading fertility expert.
Fueled by factors including the second-child policy taking effect last year, more women desire to have another child, but have passed their peak reproduction age and must resort to medical help, said Sun Yun, clinical director of Shanghai Renji Hospital's Center for Reproductive Medicine.
The center was visited by patients with infertility problems about 250,000 times last year, Sun said, adding that many were women born in the 1970s.
Pre-pregnancy assessments are important, she said. "Three examinations are required: A fertility assessment on organs such as the ovaries and uterus; a basic health assessment on obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure; and a psychological assessment to test if a couple is ready to have a child."
About 40 percent of IVF procedures performed in Shanghai last year were successful, Sun said.
Shanghai has the highest percentage of aging population in China. Of the city's 14.5 million population, 31.6 percent are age 60 or older, according to the latest official figures.
The number of registered elderly rose by 5 percent year-on-year to about 4.58 million last year, while the life expectancy in the city reached 83, higher than the average national level of 76.1 in 2015.
The universal second-child policy, which took effect on Jan 1, 2016, was expected to result in a rise in the number of newborns in the aging city.
About 218,400 babies were born in Shanghai last year, a slight increase from 2015. Nationwide, about 90 million women became eligible to have a second child, but half are older than 40. That means they face a higher risk of complications during pregnancy.
As such, reproductive health and fertility preservation are becoming increasingly popular topics, with the 2017 Third Pujiang Reproductive Medicine Forum and the International Federation of Fertility Societies Symposium in Shanghai gathering medical experts from home and abroad last month.
Late child birth can lead to a higher risk of reproductive diseases of the ovaries oruterus, or sperm disorders, said Chen Xiangfeng, deputy director of urology at Shanghai Renji Hospital.
"Men and women each account for about 50 percent of infertility factors," he said, adding that the best reproductive age for women is between 25 and 29, preferably not over 35, while for men, it's 25 to 35.
Chen Zijiang, director of Shanghai Renji Hospital's Center for Reproductive Medicine, said: "The female fertility rate at 35 years old is only 50 percent of that at age 25. This is halved again by 40, with women more likely to experience issues such as miscarriages, complications and birth defects."