[Paleopsych] Telegraph: Women bypass sex in favour of 'instant pregnancies'
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Fri Oct 7 23:27:53 UTC 2005
Women bypass sex in favour of 'instant pregnancies'
By Charlotte Edwardes and Andrew Alderson
Women are increasingly seeking inappropriate IVF treatment because they do not
have the time or inclination for a sex life and want to "diarise" their busy
Wealthy career women in their 30s and early 40s, some of whom have given up
regular sex altogether, are turning to "medicalised conception" - despite being
fertile and long before they have exhausted the possibility of a natural
They are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for private IVF treatments - even
though they have unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects - because they
believe it offers them the best chance of "instant" pregnancy.
Many fertility experts believe that IVF offers women the best chance of
pregnancy - a one in three chance of success or better in one cycle if the
woman is under 35, whereas natural conception has no better than a one in four
chance for a woman of the same age even if a couple have an active sex life.
An active sex life aimed at pregnancy is considered to be unprotected sex at
least once every three days.
Each year about 43,000 women receive IVF treatment, most of them privately. The
cost of a single treatment - and often several are needed - is at least £2,500.
Government guidelines on when women should receive treatment (on the NHS) say
IVF should be given only to those aged between 23 and 39 who have an identified
cause for the fertility problem or who have suffered unexplained fertility
problems for at least three years."
Michael Dooley, a gynaecologist, obstetrician and fertility expert, said that
in the past five years he has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of
patients seeking "inappropriate or premature" IVF treatment.
"Many of these couples are simply not having sex or not having enough sex," he
said. "Conception has become medicalised. It's too clinical. There has been a
trend away from having sex and loving relationships towards medicalised
Mr Dooley practises at Westover House clinic and the Lister Hospital, both in
south-west London, and a clinic in Poundbury, Dorset. He said: "I have people
who come to me for IVF who haven't got time for sex. Those people don't care
about looking for a lifestyle or maximising their natural potential."
Emma Cannon, who runs the fertility programme at Westover House, said: "I have
patients who diary sex in. When the they don't fall pregnant they panic and
think they need IVF.
"People want everything now. If they can't have a baby now, they want IVF. They
think it's no different from putting your name down for a handbag. Some people
are horrified by the idea that they have to have sex two to three times a week.
About 10 per cent of people I see don't have time to have sex. It's usually
when you have two professionals who are based in the city and are very busy.
"Mothers might be working or their children sleep in their bed. I told one of
my patients who is going through IVF that another IVF patient had just
conceived naturally. She said: 'What? She's having sex? Bloody Luddite'."
Dr Tim Evans, the founder of Westover House and the Queen's GP, said: "People
are increasingly trying to control it [conception]. They are testing, testing,
testing when they should just have sex."
Prof Gedis Grudzinskas, the medical director of the London Bridge Fertility,
Gynaecology and Genetics Centre, said: "If a woman over the age of 40 says she
has been trying to conceive for six to 12 months and wants IVF, it would be a
silly person who said 'no'. In my view, it's wise to go straight to IVF even
though it's not without its complications.
"Many people in their late 30s or early 40s without children are completely
absorbed in their professional lives and have less opportunities to conceive.
Many couples I see have one of them working abroad and the most they see each
other is at weekends."
Prof Bill Ledger, a specialist in fertility problems at the Royal Hallamshire
Hospital, in Sheffield, said that the number of women seeking a "fast track" to
IVF was increasing rapidly. He estimates one woman of about 40 seeks urgent IVF
treatment each week from the hospital.
"I am reluctant to put anyone on an IVF programme unless they have tried for at
least six months to conceive naturally," he said.
"But the older a woman is the less is the window of opportunity and fast
tracking [to an IVF programme] has to be an option."
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