Objective To document the reproductive experiences of a representative sample of Australian women aged 16–59 years.
Method Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16–59 years from all States and Territories. The overall response rate was 73.1% (69.4% among men, and 77.6% among women). Women were asked the number of times they had experienced a live birth, a still birth, a miscarriage and a termination of pregnancy.
Results: Of the women surveyed, 15.5% reported having experienced difficulty in becoming pregnant and 76.1% had been pregnant at least once. Nearly all the women who had been pregnant reported experiencing a live birth. Substantial minorities of women reported having experienced a miscarriage (33.4%) or a termination of pregnancy (22.6%). The percentage of women who reported becoming pregnant the first time as a teenager declined from 22.8% among women aged 50–59 to 16.9% among women aged 20–29. Of those who had had vaginal intercourse, 19.2% had used emergency contraception, 53.3% of them only once.
Conclusion There was clear evidence of substantial changes in the fertility of Australian women over the past 40 years.