From next year, English high school students will be given lessons about fertility in an attempt to address concerns that many Britons are leaving it too late to have a baby, and then struggling to get pregnant as a result.
The new classes hopefully signal at least a partial move away from fertility being treated by high school educators as only something negative to be avoided, giving young girls more holistic information about the natural way in which their bodies work.
Research indicates that further fertility education will be beneficial. A 2016 survey by the British Fertility Society found that four in five young people aged between 16 and 24 wrongly believed that female fertility only starts to decline after the age of 35.
A recent study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that just 13 per cent of women surveyed were able to identify their most fertile time, despite a third of the women reporting that they monitored their ovulation. The authors concluded that fertility knowledge needs to be better addressed among women intending to conceive, finding that even doctors were uninformed.
According to the Daily Mail, in the new classes teenagers will be taught when women are at their most fertile, that a woman's fertility rate tends to decline with age and that women should not wait until 35 to have a baby as their fertility will be too low.
Joyce Harper, of the Fertility Education Initiative, said:
“The delay in starting a family increases every year. We need to be sure that young people are aware of their fertility and how to prepare to have a healthy family.”
Professor Geeta Nargund, of the IVF centre CREATE Fertility, said:
“We should focus on preventing infertility, rather than rely on treatment all the time. This is about empowering young people with knowledge.”
It will be interesting to see if more countries follow England’s lead, especially as the taxpayer health dollar spent on infertility increases. Last year Australian experts also advised that “fertility classes” should be introduced among its high school students because its birthrate has fallen so dramatically.
In the United Kingdom, the classes will perhaps assist to counter its low fertility rate of 1.80 children per woman in the future. This is simple knowledge which every woman can learn for herself, and it is really very surprising the number of women who have no idea how their bodies work and just when it is possible, or most likely, to have a baby.