So Kirstie Allsopp has kicked the hornet’s nest by suggesting that women should delay going to university and should instead start having children in their early to mid-twenties.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, which has subsequently been picked up by all the other papers, not to mention setting internet forums buzzing, she said, "Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you're 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you're young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward. At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home, and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue."
Allsopp says fertility is the one thing that cannot change. "Some of the greatest pain that I have seen among friends is the struggle to have a child. It wasn't all people who couldn't start early enough because they hadn't met the right person," she said.
There’s no doubt that her statement is controversial and many have said that it is easy for a ‘posh’ woman from a monied background to make such a statement, but she has certainly hit a nerve. It’s true that fertility declines with age, although by how much, depends on the individual, and it is true, that many women are playing with fire by delaying starting a family until their late thirties without knowing their fertility status.
There’s no doubt that financial pressures on couples are ever increasing (student debt and massive housing costs for a start) and the reasons for delaying starting a family are quite understandable, but couples should be doing this armed with accurate information about their fertility, not blindly letting the years slip by and hoping that everything will be OK.
At Fertile Matters we passionately believe that men and women should be aware of their fertility, by means of annual testing, so that they can make informed decisions about their life. Kirstie may have upset some people, but generally we think she has done society a service by bringing fertility into the headlines.