About a year ago, I became a columnist for Fertility Road, one of the world’s leading fertility magazines. It’s fun writing about stuff that interests me – a bit like writing a blog except, even better, you get paid!
For the next issue’s column, I’ve written about fertility education. It’s been a hot topic this month following the leak that top Fertility Consultant, Professor Geeta Nargund (who by the way was one of mine and features in my book) has written to the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, urging her to put fertility education on the curriculum. Nargund is concerned at the growing number of people who are coming to her with problems at an age when their natural fertility is starting to decline and feels that we’re not educating young women that it’s best to start trying for a baby before you’re 30.
As I’ve had a lot of water in my ears lately I was deaf to the furore until my friend and fertility colleague Dee Armstrong alerted me. She wrote a brilliant piece for Huffington Post in which she argued that fertility education in schools is a no-brainer. I agree one hundred percent. But I confess I also enjoyed reading the piece by Harriet Minter in the Guardian which accused Professor Nargund of scaremongering.
The thing is everyone has a point here. It’s true that your fertility declines as you get older. And declining fertility makes making babies harder. But it’s equally true that many women do get pregnant in their thirties and forties and, in fact, the average age of first time motherhood is increasing.
Ultimately I think you’ve got to know the facts, and make your choice. But where I am confused is whether infertility or sub-fertility is actually increasing and if it is then why. There are certainly more IVF babies being born but is it due to declining fertility or are people just going for help earlier because it’s there? Nowadays IVF babies are two a penny (well hardly a penny, more like several thousand pounds). A friend of mine who has just had twins says she gets stopped constantly and the first question everyone asks is: ‘Are they IVF’?
So what I think we also need is more education on whether the growth of the fertility industry is a result of our health and age or simply capitalism at work. And isn’t it funny that one of the most important capitalists since IVF was invented had twins (you know, that iron lady who wasn’t for turning). When Carol and Mark were babies no one asked that question then!