IVF success stories give older couples 'false sense of security'
Dr. Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust03 November 2005
A report in the UK's Independent on Sunday newspaper says that women should be warned not to leave it too long to try for a baby. Reporters spoke to Dr Richard Kennedy from the British Fertility Society (BFS), who said that women are 'lulled into a false sense of security by success stories of couples becoming parents later in life' and have 'very high expectations' about what fertility treatment can achieve.
The reporters interviewed a couple who have been experiencing difficulties trying to get pregnant. Elaine Riding, 37, said she expected to be a mother within a year of beginning IVF treatment. 'We presumed, wrongly, that if you do it the right way - you get married, get a roof over your head and have a little money in the bank - everything would be OK', she said. However, the article reports that the Ridings are 'among thousands of couples' who are 'part of a new childless generation unable to conceive because they have left it too late'.
While bold journalistic statements such as these may be overstating the situation, it is still advisable not to pin hopes on IVF if trying to become parents at a later age. Dr Kennedy said that it is not only the individuals concerned were responsible for these false expectations. He said that it was good that women should be able to pursue careers, but that 'Government and employers must take on board that women are more fertile in their younger years'.
Last month, three London-based fertility clinicians wrote an editorial in the British Medical Journal that warned women about 'leaving it too late' to start a family. One of the authors, Melanie Davis, from University College London, told the Independent on Sunday that her clinic sees many women who have achieved much but left it too late to have children. But, she said, the women themselves should not be blamed: 'Women are the victims because society demands so much from us', she said. She added that 'the problem, though, is that despite fantastic advances in science, there is always going to be a cut-off point where your eggs will no longer be viable'.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.