Many Hong Kong couples with fertility problems seek help only when they get to an age when bearing children is risky, unaware that this is a problem, says the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong. Grace Wong Ching-yin, who is in charge of the association's fertility service, said of 1,200 couples who approached them for help last year, about 20 per cent were aged 36 or above - when pregnancy is considered high-risk. 'Many couples coming to us do not know that fertility is affected by age. Some are just too busy while others want to wait until they are financially stable before having babies,' Dr Wong said. 'They think doctors can help them afterwards whenever they want babies. But our biological clock continues to run. Very often when you finally achieve something, you find that you have fertility problems.' She urged couples to prioritise their goals and not put having babies at the bottom of their lists. Of the couples who sought help last year, about 70 per cent of the women were 31 or above and 20 per cent were over 36. Four women were over 45. About 30 per cent of the couples had been married for six years and 90 per cent had never had children. More than 30 per cent of their problems had to do with low sperm counts and defective sperm, about 30 per cent related to ovulation, and another 30 per cent involved blockage of the Fallopian tubes or pelvic problems. About 5 per cent of problems were not identified. But Dr Wong did not know their success rates because many cases were referred to other hospitals and clinics for treatment. She said the older the couples were, the less likely they would react positively to treatment. 'People do not know that they can still fail even with assisted pregnancies. In the end, they either have to rely on donated sperms and eggs or accept the reality that they cannot have their own children.' Women over 35 are considered high risk because they have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure and diabetes, and delivering babies with birth defects. For men over 40, sperm quantity and quality declines.