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It’s Time To Talk About Infertility, Baby

By Sarah Healey on November 9, 2015 in News

Photo: Diana Scalfati

Photo: Diana Scalfati

It seems today, in our competitive world, both young women and men are under an enormous amount of pressure once they hit their twenties. Many expectations loom: tertiary education, finding the ‘perfect’ career then working your way up to where you want to be, finally scraping together just enough money to put a deposit on anything you can afford. And don’t forget to take into account a few years for intermittent travel. It doesn’t leave much room (or cash) for the thought of babies, does it?

By the time most of us consider making room in our lives for screaming bundles of joy and sleepless nights we’re well into our thirties, and for many couples this can pose a problem. One in six Australian couples experience infertility, which is a staggeringly high figure. As such, the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment is on the rise.

Australia’s first IVF baby, Candice Thum, and fellow IVF child and Bondi resident Rebecca Featherstone Jelen have launched Fertility Matters – a national campaign that calls for improved education on fertility issues. They’ve set up the website with a link to a quick survey for any person who wants to have children to take.

“The campaign is really about getting people to talk about infertility in an informed way,” Ms Featherstone Jelen said. “We believe everyone should have access to the correct information about their fertility health so when the time comes to start a family they are fully armed with the best information. We want people to be able to discuss it at the dinner table, with their friends; we want to make it general knowledge.”

Statistically the best time to conceive is in your early 20s. If a couple has tried and failed to conceive over a one-year period, they may have fertility problems. If you’re over 35 you should seek help if you haven’t fallen pregnant within six months of trying.

It should be noted that infertility isn’t just a female conundrum. After all, it takes two to tango. 40 percent of the time the problem lies with the male partner, 40 percent with the female partner, and for the remaining 20 percent of cases the cause is unknown. The good news is it doesn’t come down to your genes.

“Infertility is not hereditary, which is a common stigma,” Ms Featherstone Jelen said.

“Candice and I have chatted to friends of similar ages and we were a little shocked about how little they knew about IVF, which we thought to be general knowledge. We were the only ones born through IVF in our respective schools; there’s now one IVF child per classroom.

“We want there to be a section [in the curriculum] about how diverse families are these days, because you’ve got kids born through IVF, same sex parents, and it’s important that it’s taught in schools.

“Our next steps include analysing the data from the survey responses and putting together some presentations and recommendations, then ultimately having it taught more widely within the education system.”

You can take the one-minute long survey at If you any concerns about your fertility health, have a chat with your GP.