Young women should be offered ‘fertility MoTs’ at 25 so that they don’t leave it too late to start a family, doctors have said.
The British Fertility Society has warned that many young women are unaware of how their ability to conceive declines with age and has called for fertility checks to be introduced by the NHS to act as a “wake up call”.
The warning is intended to highlight the risks associated with waiting too long to start a family, such as the heartache of later infertility and complications in pregnancy and child birth.
Professor Adam Balen, Chairman of the British Fertility Society is quoted in the national press as wanting to “put the family back into family planning”, and said that many women were far too optimistic about their biological clock, and that women do not have the control over their fertility that easy access to contraception has led them to believe.
Checks could indicate whether you are more likely to have problems, or start having problems, and could indicate key measures such as how many eggs a woman has left. Consultations could include diet and lifestyle advice such as stopping smoking, cutting back on alcohol and checks on obesity and anorexia, which can contribute to infertility.
The number of women in Northern Ireland aged 35-39 having babies has increased in line with current trends across the rest of the UK, with around a fifth of all babies in the UK now born to mothers over 35 as many women put off starting a family due to a pressure to develop careers. Professor Balen suggests that ideally young couples should be trying to start a family by the time they are in their late 20s, or early 30s. He said that young people need to be able to have the option of both developing careers and starting families, “not one to the exclusion of another”.
With the NHS focused on education to try to prevent pregnancy, rather than encourage it, and a cut back on providing fertility treatments for couples struggling to conceive, it has become more and more common for people to self-fund fertility tests and treatments.
Jenny Dobbs, a leading fertility expert at Randox Health Clinics suggests that a fertility test early and regularly, would help couples who are trying for a family:
“Around one in six couples in Northern Ireland have difficulty conceiving, and this is not always down to a problem with the sperm, eggs and reproductive organs. A fertility health check can be life changing for a couple who are trying for a baby, or for women who want to understand more about their current fertility levels.
Randox Health takes a unique approach to fertility through comprehensive personalised blood testing for both men and women. Highly advanced assessments, or MoTs, are designed to identify the earliest signs of illness and work with clients to prevent disease in your future, which is very important for preserving your fertility and making healthy babies.”