London, Sept. 25: Women in Britain 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 lives.
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 conception.
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 has 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 in the past five years he has seen a 20 per cent rise 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 conception.”
Dooley practises at Westover House clinic and the Lister Hospital, both in south-west London, and a clinic in Poundbury, Dorset. “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 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.
“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’,” Cannon said.