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IVF will mostly be a lifestyle choice by 2050, says man who invented the Pill

18 November 2014
Appeared in BioNews 780

By 2050, most women will opt to conceive through IVF using cryopreserved eggs and sperm, meaning that sex will become 'purely recreational', an eminent scientist has claimed.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Professor Carl Djerassi, a chemist who developed the contraceptive pill, spoke about a future where fertile couples would choose to reproduce via IVF, and there would effectively be no unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

'The vast majority of women who will choose IVF in the future will be fertile women who have frozen their eggs and delayed pregnancy,' said Professor Djerassi, who is emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University. 'Over the next few decades, say by the year 2050, more IVF fertilisations will occur among fertile women than the current five million fertility-impaired ones. For them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 per cent.'

Professor Djerassi hinted that IVF would be used as an 'insurance' policy against infertility later in life, or to prevent having children with genetic conditions.

'Women in their twenties will first choose this approach as insurance, providing them with freedom in the light of professional decisions or the absence of the right partner or the inexorable ticking of the biological clock.' he said. 'However I predict that many of these women will in fact decide to be fertilised by IVF methods because of the advances in genetic screening. And once that happens then IVF will start to become a normal non-coital method of having children.'

Professor Djerassi's comments have drawn heavy criticism. The Guardian points out that he has not considered whether current technology – for example, fertilising eggs that have been cryopreserved – would allow his vision to be realised. 'If as Djerassi says putting all our eggs in one cryo-basket will be the way of the future, there are hurdles that need to be carefully navigated to ensure that they will still be intact enough once thawed,' wrote columnist Aarathi Prasad.

The Telegraph's Bryony Gordon dismissed the comments as 'idiocy', saying: 'These comments are at best misleading, at worst insulting to all the couples who have to go through IVF for medical reasons rather than it being a lifestyle choice.'

'Plus, they help to perpetuate a myth that leaves many thousands of people in despair every year – the myth that fertility can in some way be controlled, switched on and off or stored up for future use like a SkyPlus Box.'

Sex will soon be just for fun not babies, says father of the Pill
The Telegraph |  9 November 2014
12 September 2016 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
Following the increase in 'social' egg freezing, the ten-year time limit on the storage of human eggs should be removed, according to a leading academic at the London School of Economics....
12 September 2016 - by Sophie Perry 
A study of women opting to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons has revealed that the most common motivation given was not yet finding the right partner...
1 September 2015 - by Arit Udoh 
Access to IVF may serve as 'fertility insurance' for women, making them more inclined to delay motherhood and focus on their career, a study has suggested...
10 February 2014 - by Patricia Cassidy 
A recent poll conducted ahead of a television documentary has shown that one quarter of respondents believed women should stop trying to 'trying to bring babies into the world' past the age of 40...
16 September 2013 - by Jessica Ware 
A leading reproductive biologist has warned against delaying motherhood beyond 35 years old, highlighting the risks of age related infertility....
22 July 2013 - by Dr Archana Vasireddy and Professor Susan Bewley 
The science is clear: most women, even in their late 30's, will succeed in having children, but many will face more infertility, miscarriage and complicated pregnancies...
10 December 2012 - by Ari Haque 
A couple who was refused fertility treatment on the NHS for being 'too old' has said it intends to challenge the decision in the courts, arguing that the decision amounts to age discrimination....
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