Reproductive expert urges schools to educate young people on fertility planning

The medical director of an Australian fertility clinic believes high schools should teach students fertility planning

Dr Devora Lieberman, of City Fertility, in Sydney,  has said teenagers need to be taught all about family planning, contraception, condoms, alongside the warnings about unsafe sex.

She said there is a huge misconception that having a baby is just about stopping contraception pills or no longer using condoms.

She said, “We spend our lives growing up trying not to get pregnant so we assume that when we stop taking birth control, we will become pregnant.

“People have a vague sense that fertility ages with us but they don’t fully appreciate how steep that decline is.”

Dr Lieberman said she regularly sees couples seeking IVF in their 30s and 40s who thought they still had plenty of time to conceive, and managing their expectations has been difficult.

“I had a couple who came to see me last week,” she says. “They thought they were very well informed, but when I pulled out the graph showing the age-related decline in fertility, their jaws dropped.”

She said she had been trying to get the message out there for about a decades but there is constantly a new crop of people who don’t appear to have heard it.

Evidence-based fertility courses should be included in the curriculum

Dr Lieberman is advocating for schools to use an evidence-based fertility planning course to go hand-in-hand with sex education, consent, and respectful relationships.

“It would involve a frank discussion about the chances of getting pregnant and age-related decline in fertility, minimising the risk of having IVF and the optimum age to start trying for a family,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr Deborah Bateson, who is the medical director at Family Planning NSW said there was a definite lack of education when it comes to fertility.

She said, “We need to consider when is the best time to tackle this issue and age-appropriate information within the school curriculum is one component.

“When you’re 16 or 17 years old the thought of being in your 40s is just too hard to imagine.

“It’s important to get the balancing of the message right so that we give them information that is most relevant to them at their stage of life without overwhelming them.”

A study confirming a large proportion of the IVF patients dramatically overestimated their chances of having a baby was presented at the European Society of Human Reproductive and Embryology’s meeting in August.

Of the 69 participants, their predicted percentage of having a baby was calculated as 32 per cent by researchers.

But 85 per cent of the women believed their chance of success stood at 34 per cent.

Do you believe fertility planning should be a part of the curriculum where you live?

We’d love to hear your opinions. Would your story be different had you been given better fertility education?

Email us with your comments,





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