Fertility education – what do you think?

120px-Classe-merikanjakaShould we be educating pupils in school about fertility? Or would it just be worrying and confusing for young people? That was the subject up for discussion at last night’s Progress Educational Trust debate at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The evening began with short talks from each of the speakers. Fertility specialist Dr Melanie Davies began with a neat summary of the biological facts, illustrating how fertility declines with age, how the rate of miscarriage increases and how IVF success rates follow that pattern. Infertility Network UK‘s Chief Executive Susan Seenan followed, talking about the charity’s Scottish education project which is funded by the government there. The project has exposed a lack of knowledge among students about basic fertility facts, and has shown how learning more can influence their choices going forwards. Helen Fraser, Chief Executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust sounded a note of caution about the realities for young women today, and discussed how going to University, having a career, finding the right person to have children with and a suitable home can all lead women to delay childbearing. Finally sex and relationships educator Justin Hancock who writes at bishuk.com spoke about what is wrong with today’s sex and relationships education and why all too often it doesn’t give young people the information they need.

The discussion which followed, chaired by Professor Adam Balen of the British Fertility Society was fascinating with many varied views – is it essential that everyone is properly informed about fertility or would fertility education just be placing adult problems on children? Does fertility education imply that lifestyle choices might be to blame for infertility? Is it time for a complete overhaul of the way we talk to young people about sex and relationships? The audience included a good number of young people who actively engaged in the discussion making interesting points and asking questions.

So would fertility education be a good thing? Should it be an essential part of every young person’s education to ensure they are properly informed? Or do we risk giving them yet another thing to worry about at a time when they have so much to deal with already? My own view is that we miss the point if we focus on teaching about “infertility” as what really matters here is fertility awareness – and I do believe young people should be taught about their own fertility in a way that my generation wasn’t. But what do you think? Would knowing more about your own fertility have made a difference to you?

Don’t forget – it’s the Fertility Show this weekend

logoIt’s not too late to get your tickets for the Fertility Show this weekend, and there are still some remaining spaces for many of the seminars. If you haven’t been before and can get to London’s Olympia this weekend, it’s well worth a visit no matter what stage you are at on your fertility journey. There are an amazing range of seminars with speakers covering all aspects of fertility and treatment, and exhibitors from clinics as well as Infertility Network UK, the HFEA, the Donor Conception Network and a stand with all the professionals working in the field run by the British Fertility Society.

When it comes to seminars, there are talks from Zita West, nutritionist Marilyn Glenville and IVF Hammersmith’s Stuart Lavery on the basics.  You’ll find James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Lister Fertility Clinic, Yacoub Khalaf and Tarek El-Toukhy from Guys and St Thomas’, Professor Geeta Nargund, from CREATE Fertility, the HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard, Professor Lesley Regan, Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, Dimitrios Nikolaou from Chelsea and Westminster NHS Hospital, Dr Melanie Davies, consultant in the Reproductive Medicine Unit at London’s NHS University College Hospital, Sam Abdalla, Director of the Lister Fertility Clinic, Kamal Ahuja of the London Women’s ClinicM Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society and Tim Child from Oxford Fertility among many others.

The seminars will also cover donor conception, complementary therapies, coping strategies, adoption and there’s even a yoga session – so, something for everyone.

Do come along and say hello – I’ll be at the Infertility Network UK stand throughout the weekend!