Two of Australia’s first IVF babies seeking public support to include fertility in school sex education:
Two of Australia’s first IVF babies who were born in the early 1980s going to launch a national petition seeking public support to include fertility in school education.
Candice Thum, born in 1980 as Australia’s first IVF baby, and Rebecca Featherstone-Jelen, born in 1983 after being conceived in England, want Year 11 and 12 students to learn about fertility as part of sexual health programs.
That includes teaching them that one in six couples experience infertility, that it is as much a male problem as it is female and that age affects pregnancy success. The pair launched Fertility Matters in 2015 and are in Adelaide for the annual Fertility Society of Australia conference, at the Convention Centre this week.
Ms Thum said it had been nearly two decades since she left school and yet little had changed in the way students were taught about fertility. “We need to change the school curriculum to teach facts, not myths of reproductive health,” she said.
Ms Featherstone-Jelen said contraception was an important part of sex education, but there was a real need for young people to be better educated generally on the factors that could affect their fertility.
“For instance, there is poor understanding that fertility declines with age and with young people increasingly choosing to delay parenthood to pursue career or personal goals, it is important to know that IVF is not a guaranteed way to become pregnant,” she said.
Ms Thum said the pair recently conducted a survey of more than 600 people, which found a “disturbing” lack of information, including that more than 100 people believed infertility was genetic and a further 14 per cent believed infertility affected only women.
“We know that the earlier people understand fertility and their bodies, the more informed they go into that part of their lives,” she said.
Both women pointed to the fact that when they were born during the early years of IVF, there was a 5 per cent chance of conception, but now at least one child in every classroom was conceived through assisted reproductive techniques.
“We’re not advocating for unprotected sex, but rather wanting to educate people about their bodies, about the process, to understand that it doesn’t happen quickly for everyone and … the signs to look out for if it isn’t working,” Ms Featherstone-Jelen said.
News Resource and Image – adelaidenow.com.au, October 15, 2017