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Fertility problems hit one in five Austrian couples

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Photo: APA/dpa/Ralf Hirschberger
14:28 CEST+02:00
The number of couples using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Salzburg has doubled since 2006, an increase well above the national average.

Figures from the Ministry of Health show every fifth couple in Austria is facing problems conceiving a child.

In the previous year, 564 couples underwent IVF treatment in Salzburg compared to 279 in 2006, a surge of 102 percent.

Austria-wide, the rise has been only 29 percent - from 4,070 IVF patients in 2006 to 5,232 in 2013.

30 percent of the women seeking medical assistance were 20 to 29 years old, while 70 percent were between 30 and 39.

According to the Medical Association, the main reason for Salzburg's boom is the exceptionally good fertility clinic at the Salzburg Federal Hospital.

During recent years, this department has earned a reputation far beyond Salzburg. Childless couples are also turning to private clinics in the city.

Doctors know every fifth couple has difficulty conceiving, with poor semen quality increasingly being blamed for problems.

Causes are still being debated by the scientific community, with researchers suspecting substances leached from plastic bottles -- bisphenol-A -- could be responsible for the decline in semen quality.

The IVF process is not an easy one for the women involved, who need to receive hormone treatments for months.

Only slightly more than one quarter of IVF treatments lead to pregnancy.

The situation in Austria's neighbour Italy is also very difficult, with some couples resorting to donors for viable fertility.

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