Saturday, July 03, 2010

IVF expert warns women to not wait

From The Guardian, an interview with Gedis Grudzinskas, an obstetrics and gynaecology expert, expressing his concerns that we are too dependent on fertility technology. He is known as a straight-talker and doesn't give his patients false hope. He is concerned with the trends in women's choices, and the broader social picture.

"This is what has intrigued me in recent years," Grudzinskas goes on. "That the age women have their first child is increasing slowly. In the UK it's a bit over 31. Even in Lithuania the age is starting to go up there too. It can happen very quickly, over a period of just 15 years. Something is happening in society. I don't think it's directly related to how women view themselves. And it's too easy to say that the world of full of males who can't commit to relationships. There is something else going on." He fears it may be linked to a misplaced trust in medical advances.

"Women should avoid delaying starting their family until their 30s. But society has to change for that to happen. Women should be given adequate time to have the child without losing opportunities for career development. At the moment, we are seeing women who tend to do better in the workplace behaving like men [ie postponing childbirth or not bothering at all]. Is that what we want?" He has the opposite concerns to activists who argue that we are becoming overpopulated. He wants to encourage more babies. "We need more babies to sustain the economy. As it is, we are not going to have enough people to support the ageing population."

The other unspoken cruelty behind fertility treatment is the gender bias, he adds. "There are many more limitations to women's fertility than to a man's. A man may only have two sperm to rub together and that may be sufficient to derive a live birth. The technology has its limits for women." And it is, like nature, notoriously unpredictable. He has seen couples with very low numbers of eggs "and, abracadabra, they conceive naturally." But many people are over-reliant on IVF – not fate – as their fallback. "And going on that IVF merry-go-round with all the drugs and the stress, given the limited return ..."

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