Fertility should be taught in school: experts

AUSTRALIA'S birthrate has fallen so dramatically that experts have called for the introduction of "fertility classes" at high school.

Teenagers would be taught about the dangers of leaving it too late in life to fall pregnant - with doctors saying not enough young women realise their fertility decreases from the age of 31.

The country's birthrate is at a historic low of just 1.79 children per woman. In the 1950s it was more than 3.4 kids per woman. A birthrate of 2.1 is regarded as the minimum to maintain population stability with migration now relied upon to grow Australia's population.

 

Westmead Fertility Centre medical director Howard Smith said it’s important fertility is spoken about in classrooms. Picture: Supplied
Westmead Fertility Centre medical director Howard Smith said it’s important fertility is spoken about in classrooms. Picture: Supplied

 

Westmead Fertility Centre medical director Howard Smith said high school students should be educated on fertility as part of "life planning".

"Somehow or another we need to be able to (talk about it)," he said.

Including fertility in school curriculums has been raised in the UK and America but rejected over concerns such a move could harm women's career ambitions.

"Unfortunately one notable effort was misconstrued as an attempt by men to dictate what women do with their bodies … you have to be very careful in how that's processed so you avoid that criticism," Dr Smith said.

"I certainly think fertility would be a very valuable thing to have people aware of in their life planning ­because age is by far the ­biggest (contributor to ­infertility)."

 

Australia’s birthrate is at a historic low of just 1.79 children per woman. Picture: iStock
Australia’s birthrate is at a historic low of just 1.79 children per woman. Picture: iStock

 

Dr Smith will hold a fertility symposium at Westmead Hospital tomorrow to discuss fertility myths ­including that "medical science will help people get pregnant no matter how old they are".

Couples also need to know that obesity diminishes fertility and women should ignore social media fads and eat a varied diet when trying to fall pregnant.

Fertility expert and University of Queensland ­Associate professor Gino Pecoraro said he was "all for" educating students on fertility.

"Information is power and our children ­deserve to be given correct information," he said.

Jessica O'Dell, who underwent IVF, supports the idea of fertility education. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Jessica O'Dell, who underwent IVF, supports the idea of fertility education. Picture: Justin Lloyd

A NSW Education Standards Authority spokesman said in an overhaul of the curriculum the government was open to suggestions on including fertility.

Mum Jessica O'Dell, 38, underwent IVF before her son Orson was born and supports fertility education.

"It would make it easier for couples when planning a family and the onus isn't just placed on the girl," she said.



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