Reproductive experiences and outcomes among a representative sample of women: the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships

Juliet Richters*, Allison Carter, Theresa Caruana, Deborah Bateson, Richard de Visser, Chris Rissel, Anna Yeung, Rebecca Guy, Kevin McGeechan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To enumerate pregnancy outcomes for a representative sample of women in Australia surveyed in 2012–2013 (primary aim) and compare these with women surveyed in 2001–2002 (secondary aim). Methods: Computer-assisted telephone interviews with over 10,000 women aged 16–69 years (participation rate 68.4%). Results are weighted for chance of selection and to reflect the population as a whole. Results: Of women with experience of vaginal intercourse, 75.1% had ever been pregnant, 18.4% reported difficulties getting pregnant and 10.0% had had fertility treatment. Of those who had been pregnant, 91.3% had ever had a live birth, 34.3% a miscarriage, 22.8% an abortion and 2.3% a stillbirth; 0.9% had relinquished a child for adoption. The proportion first pregnant in their 30s was 11% among women aged 60–69 and 26% among those aged 40–49. Fewer older women reported difficulties getting pregnant. Of the 21,882 pregnancies reported, 70% led to live births and 10% were terminated. Compared with our 2001–2002 survey, fewer women reported ever having been pregnant. Giving up newborns for adoption has become very rare. Conclusions: Falling fertility since the 1960s reflects greater access to contraception and abortion and higher opportunity costs of childbearing. Implications for public health: These findings on women's lifetime reproductive experiences complement routine annual data collections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-74
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (grant number: 1002174). We are indebted to the late David Shellard and the staff of the then Hunter Valley Research Foundation for managing data collection and undertaking the interviews for this study, and to the Social Research Centre for producing weights for the data. We also thank the women who took part in the study and so freely shared the sometimes intimate aspects of their lives. We are grateful to Dr Huachun Zou, Dr Suzanne Fitzadam and Dr Praveena Gunaratnam for early analyses, to the late Associate Professor Julia Shelley for assistance with an early draft and many interesting discussions, and to Professor Andrew Grulich and Emerita Professor Judy Simpson for their contributions to ASHR2 as a whole. Professor Anthony Smith, who led ASHR1, died during the course of ASHR2 and we intend this work to be a tribute to the extraordinary contribution his work made to the sexual health and wellbeing of Australians.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors.


  • abortion
  • adoption
  • Australia
  • fertility
  • induced
  • infertility
  • live birth
  • national survey
  • pregnancy
  • spontaneous


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