IVF gives women false expectations

Experts are warning that women are risking their chances of having children because they are delaying motherhood on the basis of "false expectations" about the success of IVF treatment.

It seems that two-thirds of women interviewed by researchers admitted they had put off starting a family for an average of four years.

According to one of Britain's leading fertility experts Dr Richard Kennedy, of the British Fertility Society, some doctors and clinics had contributed to the myth that IVF and other procedures could overcome any problems.

Kennedy says there is an incredible amount of false and unreasonable expectation about fertility treatment and what it can do.

Speaking at the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, he said that doctors are partly to blame because of the way in which IVF is talked about.

Stories about 'medical breakthroughs' where women of 60 have given birth as a result of fertility treatment only serve to exacerbate the problem.

Experts say that one in seven couples in the UK experience fertility problems, and they predict that rates will soar over the next decade.

Some of the causes lie with lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking, but specialists stress that the biggest factor in infertility is the age of the woman.

The average age of British women at the time of giving birth to their first child has risen from 22 in 1971 to almost 28 in 2002, and is continuing to go up.

Fertility decreases considerably from the age of 35.

In a survey researchers from the University of Iowa interviewed 464 female patients attending an infertility clinic and 688 women who did not have any problems with conception.

They found that 63 per cent of all the women had delayed motherhood for an average of four years, with financial and career concerns the most often cited reasons for delaying having a family.

The researchers could only conclude that a good education and understanding of the risks of ageing on fertility does not appear to translate into an urgency to conceive.

Experts have found that an over-the-counter cholesterol-lowering drug could help to reduce symptoms of one of the leading causes of female infertility.

Simvastatin, which is widely used to lower cholesterol, can also help in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

About one in 20 women in Britain suffer from PCOS, which is caused by excess levels of the male hormone testosterone.

Effects include excess body hair, obesity, acne and having no or few periods.

Sufferers often have problems conceiving and a higher rate of miscarriage.

Experts from the Yale University School of Medicine studied 48 women diagnosed with PCOS, and found those given simvastatin showed lower levels of testosterone.

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