Women who want children should start trying before they turn 30, a top UK fertility doctor has said.
Professor Geeta Nargund has written to education secretary Nicky Morgan calling for fertility lessons to be included in the national curriculum.
According to The Mail On Sunday, the letter recounts the ‘shock and agony’ she all too often witnesses when women realise they have left it too late.
The result is a ‘costly and largely unnecessary burden on the NHS’ as increasing numbers of women in their 30s and 40s seek IVF treatment.
Professor Nargund said that ‘ideally, if a woman is ready for a child, she should start trying by the time she is 30’.
She told Sky News: ‘I see this constant message coming across about ‘If we had known earlier’.
‘If women are ready, if they have the right partner and have the right financial and social stability and the support to have a child, then I think they should consider not delaying – that’s my clear message.
‘We have done very well in reducing teenage pregnancies, by investing in sex education, but it has taken a long time to achieve that, and what I’m saying now to Nicky Morgan is that it’s time to look at the other side of the coin – we need to address conception.
‘There are a number of factors at that age which affect fertility in later life, for example smoking, alcohol intake, sexually transmitted diseases, medical conditions, body weight – being too thin or overweight.
‘If we give them information about biological ageing then they can make an informed choice.’
Prof Nargund, who is lead consultant for reproductive medicine at St George’s Hospital in London, said educating people about fertility was ‘very important for the public purse because it will help us to get more babies within the same NHS budget’.
The 55-year-old said she started a family with her husband at the age of 29, according to The Mail On Sunday.