Grand expectations

In vitro fertilisation clinics should be doing a freeze during the recession, but in Britain their income is going up and up. Research conducted for a women’s magazine indicates that £2.9 billion will be spent on fertility treatments this year compared with £1.8 billion in 2007. Government funded IVF is in short supply, so where is the private money coming from?

Would-be grandparents, that’s where. The study commissioned by Red magazine found that a quarter of women over the age of 40 and 17 per cent of all couples having fertility treatments are having them paid for by their own parents. At an average spend of £6638 per couple that’s a significant investment by the older generation in relieving the distress of their adult children and satisfying their own desires for grandchildren to brighten up their lives.

It is also something of a gamble since less than a third of women under 35 become pregnant after IVF, and the odds get steadily worse for older women -- only 10.6 per cent of those aged 40 to 42 achieve pregnancy.

Then there is the stress. The survey, involving 3000 women, found that a third of those who underwent fertility treatment said that their marriages suffered, and five per cent of couples split up. Parents -- and their money -- tended to increase the pressure to get a good result. And yet two-thirds of the women said they would do it all again to have child.

A case study cited by The Times adds another dimension to this story -- a slightly worrying insight into the spending habits of Generation X:

Clare was in her early thirties at the time; her husband, Christopher, an events organiser, was 47. “We were still at that stage where we were spending all our money on going out and having holidays so we didn’t have any savings. I had always wanted children and my mother grandchildren. It was always just seen as the progression of our life,” she told The Times.

My parents have always been very supportive financially. When my mother saw the stress I was under about not getting pregnant, she said, ‘If it’s the money, don’t worry about that’.”

Still spending everything, at that age? Just when is adolescence supposed to end?


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