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Fertility poll warns women leave motherhood too late

Katy Sinclair

Progress Educational Trust

10 September 2007

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[BioNews, London]
A fertility survey commissioned by RED magazine has warned that women are leaving attempts to conceive until after their 30th birthday, with the result that more than a third of all couples in Britain are experiencing fertility problems.

The poll surveyed 3,200 women between the ages of 30 and 45, with 35 per cent admitting that they experienced fertility problems, a much higher number than the estimated 16 per cent. Of those questioned, 5 per cent had tried IVF, but only 23 per cent of that number had their treatment funded on the NHS. This is contrary to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines that every couple should have at least one IVF cycle funded by the NHS, which had been endorsed by the former Health Secretary John Reid.

The survey further found that, despite the average cost of each IVF cycle being �4,782, only 47 per cent of women undergoing treatment would eventually have a baby. It is now estimated that women in this age group in the UK spend �1.7 billion per year on fertility treatments.

The survey opined that some of reasons for the increase in problems experienced by couples included the fact that most women started trying for their first baby at the age of 30. Many women were unaware that their fertility peaked during their mid-20s, and declined sharply after 35, nor that only a quarter of fertility treatments resulted in a successful pregnancy.

The survey found that 84 per cent of the women questioned wished they had attempted to conceive at an earlier age. Other reasons for increased problems were an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, greater obesity and a decline in male fertility. The survey found that a fifth of all fertility problems in those questioned was due to male infertility.

Additionally, the huge cost of fertility treatment meant that many of those experiencing problems found that they could not afford any treatment. Sam Baker, editor of RED, said that 'couples on ordinary salaries are being priced out. Some couples even take on mortgage-scale debt in the pursuit of their dream of having a child'.

The charity Infertility Network UK drew attention to the fact that the government was not living up to its promises on fertility treatment, with a spokeswoman stating that 'in reality we still have a far from equitable service and many primary care trusts are imposing their own eligibility criteria. Those unfair criteria are exacerbating the postcode lottery and forcing many couples to turn to the private sector to pay for treatment'.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 10 September 2007   Date Updated: 10 September 2007
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