IVF to be main method of conception within a decade

Sex will not be used to have babies in just 10 years, as couples turn to IVF, say scientists...

Couples will stop having sex to conceive babies within a decade and use IVF instead, scientists said yesterday.

They say 30-somethings will increasingly rely on artificial methods of fertilisation because natural human reproduction is ‘fairly inefficient’.

It means that in future, sex will be nothing more than a leisure activity – the latest blow to the Christian idea that the role of sex is to produce children.

If the experts are right, it means the sci-fi world of books such as Brave New World, in which all children are born in ‘hatcheries’, could soon be closer to reality. But it raises ethical questions over whether greater use of IVF will lead to eugenics, with couples screening out characteristics they regard as undesirable.

The startling vision of the future comes from John Yovich, a veterinary doctor from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. He believes IVF can ease the pressure on couples who have delayed having children to pursue a career, because going for the test-tube option will be more effective than trying for a baby naturally.

Even young adults have no more than a one-in-four chance every month of reproducing through sex. Among the over-35s, this falls to one in ten. This compares to the near 100 per cent success rate that Dr Yovich believes will be possible with IVF within ten years.

He said: ‘Natural human reproduction is at best a fairly inefficient process. Within the next five to ten years, couples approaching 40 will assess the IVF industry first when they want to have a baby.’

Gedis Grudzinskas, a Harley Street infertility specialist, said: ‘It wouldn’t surprise me if IVF does become significantly more efficient than natural reproduction, but I doubt whether you could ever completely guarantee that it would work.’

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