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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

Survey highlights growing trend to late motherhood and 'emotional infertility'

10 September 2012

By Dr Rosie Morley

Appeared in BioNews 672

Less than a fifth of women worry about being too old to have children, according to a recent survey by Red magazine.

The survey also reported that around one half of women who had not yet started trying for children did not want to give up their 'life and freedom'.

The 2012 Modern Motherhood report surveyed 3,000 women aged between 28 and 45. Of these, 36 percent were unsure whether they would like to start a family and 28 percent said they would rather focus on their careers.

Fertility declines with age and current medical advice recommends conceiving before the age of 35. 'But this report has shown that often, at the right biological time, women are simply not in the right place emotionally or financially to start trying', said Brigid Moss, health director of Red, in the Daily Mail.

Three quarters of women believed that infertility is a problem that can be treated, and one in ten had received IVF. On average, these women paid £7,200 for IVF treatment, and most of them (77 percent) were privately treated. Related to this, 20 percent of women said they had considered freezing their eggs for future use, and 20 percent said they would consider using donor sperm to conceive if they did not have a partner.

Over one half of women said they thought that so-called 'emotional infertility' - not having met the right partner yet - was just as bad as medical infertility and 31 percent of women considered themselves 'emotionally infertile'.

'We all know someone in this position. A doctor can't help with emotional infertility', said Moss. 'It's become more acceptable to talk about medical infertility with your friends and family, so women can now be more open about that. But it must be very hard to confess that you're desperate for a baby, but haven't met anyone', she said.

However, Kirsty Budds, a doctoral researcher in psychology at the University of Huddersfield, says she is critical of the term 'delayed motherhood' for implying choice. 'I question whether it is actually a choice, but if it is, then it is a choice that is constrained and shaped by the values in our society and the pressures upon women', she said.

'For a lot of women it isn't a selfish choice but is based around careful decisions, careful negotiations and life circumstances such as the right partner and the right financial position', she added.


Daily Telegraph | 05 September 2012
Mail Online | 05 September 2012
University of Huddersfield | 29 August 2012
Survey: Many happy to delay family
Press Association | 05 September 2012


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