Third of couples face being infertile

UK Telegraph 05 September 2007
Women are leaving it too late to get pregnant and almost three quarters fear their way of life has ruined their chance of having a baby. Obesity, smoking and the rise of sexually transmitted diseases are reducing women’s fertility, experts say. Despite the scale of the problem, particularly among the professional classes, IVF treatment on the NHS is still a “postcode lottery”. Half of England’s health authorities do not fund a single IVF attempt, more than two years after the Government said the treatment should be offered to all who need it.The National Fertility Survey found 35 per cent of couples have problems conceiving. They are spending on average almost ?5,000 trying for a baby. Twenty-three per cent of those receive free IVF treatment on the NHS. Most women do not start trying to conceive until they are 30, the survey found, and 60 per cent wish they had started sooner.Prof Bill Ledger, a fertility expert from Sheffield University, said lower fertility was caused by a combination of factors. Although delayed child bearing is the most important, increasing levels of obesity, sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and a long-term decline in men’s sperm count are also to blame. He said: “The most common age for having a first child is now 30-35. “Yet human biology says that the best age for a woman to have children is 20 to 35.”

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