A top UK fertility specialist has said that women who have children after thirty are placing a huge pressure on the British health system and warned them to start having children in their twenties.
Consultant gynaecologist Professor Geeta Nargund believes the UK faces a ‘fertility timebomb’ as the average age a woman has her first child continues to rise.
The lead consultant for reproductive medicine at St George’s Hospital in London claims that fertility issues encountered by women who begin trying for a baby in their thirties place “costly and largely unnecessary burden on the NHS” as they opt for IVF and other means of conceiving.
In a letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan obtained by The Sunday Mail, Professor Nargund wrote: “I have witnessed all too often the shock and agony on the faces of women who realise they have left it too late to start a family.
“For so many, this news comes as a genuine surprise and the sense of devastation and regret can be overwhelming.
“And so often the cry will be “Why did no one warn me about this?”’
Professor Nargund believes that children should be given ‘age appropriate’ information from primary school to university to highlight the importance of having children when they are at an optimum age.
“Information is power and the best way to empower people to take control of their fertility is through education.”
“Ideally, if a woman is ready for a child, she should start trying by the time she is 30. She should consider having a child early because as a woman gets older, her fertility declines sharply.”
“As women get older, they experience more complex fertility problems, so treatment tends to be less successful and more expensive.
“On average, more [IVF] treatment cycles are required for a successful pregnancy. So educating people about fertility is very important for the public purse, because it will help us to get more babies within the same NHS budget.”
In the UK IVF is funded by the NHS. IVFs success rate remains at just one birth per four cycles of IVF which costs the health system £20,000 (€28,000). In 2013, the NHS funded over 25,500 cycles in England and Wales.
Professor Nargund had her first child at 29 and said: “My biological clock was absolutely on my mind.”
The doctor revealed that many women are Whooley misinformed about their fertility.
“Educated women are not necessarily educated about their fertility,” she said.
The average age Irish women have their first baby is 30.3.
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