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The Young and Infertility

The fertility show at Olympia London is one of the biggest exhibitions dedicated to fertility with exhibitors from all over the world that include a multitude of IVF clinics and natural therapeutic practices sharing information on how they can help those struggling to conceive.

Every year I exhibit never ceases to amaze me how many people attend this show trying to find out as much as they can and to some must be overwhelming to say the least.

Infertility is on the steady increase with one in seven couples having difficulties conceiving and yet it is still a taboo subject for many. The thought of sharing such personal information with family and friends is not the done thing, but here at the fertility show couples easily talk about their inability to conceive from having poor sperm quality or multiple failed IVF attempts with the odd tear or two as they speak in a very open and public place.

What always surprises me each year is how many younger people attend the exhibition and share their stories of infertility. They have a whole range of case histories collectively with a notable increase of younger women being diagnosed with premature ovarian failure (reduced number of eggs)

Studies show that there are around 35000 people in the UK having difficulties conceiving and most have very easy to understand explanations such as patent tubes (blocked) or anovulation (not ovulating) and in clinical practice I also see an increase of young women having Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS is one of the many causes of infertility and Rutkowska 2016, suggests that environmental toxins like plasticizers found in food additives and packaging could affect the endocrine system, whilst other research suggests high sugar intake and the contraceptive pill may have some influence but with its vast research it is still unclear of the exact pathogenesis of PCOS or that of unexplained infertility.

Many patients come to see me to help regulate their hormones or establish a cycle usually have a history of being on the contraceptive pill for average of 10 and 15 years to avoid unintended pregnancies during their prime fertile years.

What is interesting to note is that as a society we are consistently reducing the amount of unintended pregnancies with supportive and much needed government policies such as the Sexual Health Improvement Framework and the Gillick consent to those under the age of 16, but on the other end of the spectrum we have an increasing population with fertility issues and the use of IVF is fast becoming the management method which has a post code lottery to some areas within the UK and many financial inconstancies of clinical commissioning groups and the health economy.

Education is key for reproductive health not only to educate for unintended pregnancies for younger people, but for women to gain better understanding of their fertile health. The fertility show every year holds short seminars with guest speakers to help explain fertility issues and treatment options which always receive good feedback from those attending, but should we be doing more than the fertility show to help educate younger people to understand reproduction for not just to avoid pregnancy in their early years but to give information on reproductive decline and the effects of lifestyle choices before the age of 35.

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