Experts warn that older women could miss IVF because of their male pride.

  • 25% of UK IVF couples opt for IVF because their partner object.
  • An average couple attempts IVF five years after their first fertility problem.
  • These are despite the fact, that there is often a drop in pregnancy rates after just two years.
  • One reason older women don’t have children is ‘Male Pride’ 

Experts have said that IVF is not an option for older women because they aren’t accepted by their partners.

Male pride, which prevents men accepting problems such as low sperm counts, and their failure to understand women’s ticking biological clocks may be part of the reason.

According to research, 25% of those who choose not to undergo fertility treatment also have a partner who prefers to continue trying for natural conceptions.

That rises to 40 per cent in the UK, where the average couple keeps trying for more than five years after learning they have a fertility problem – the odds of becoming pregnant fall significantly after two years of trying unsuccessfully.

This international study examined both male and female partners that wanted to continue trying to have a child. However, British fertility experts believe the majority of this pressure comes from men.

Stuart Lavery, a consultant in reproductive medicine at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We often see women who just want to get on with IVF, while men still think they can have a child naturally.

A quarter of people who decide against fertility treatment have a partner who would rather keep trying to conceive naturally, according to a study (stock image)

One quarter of those who choose not to undergo fertility treatment also have a partner who prefers to try to conceive naturally. This is according to a survey (stock photo)

‘It doesn’t help that people are generally having children later, so men may wrongly think they can keep trying for years.’

Mr Lavery, who was not involved in the study but presented a separate analysis of UK data to the recent Fertility 2022 conference, added: ‘In 40 per cent of cases, couples can’t conceive because of a male fertility issue.

‘But men can struggle to accept this, which may possibly put IVF on hold. There is also a kind of misplaced nobility, where men don’t want their partner to go through stressful and painful treatment.’ 

Professor Jacky Boivin from Cardiff University, senior author of the study which is published in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online, said: ‘We see a lot of men who feel if they have more sex, or drink or smoke less, they can fix the problem and keep trying naturally. Men who aren’t ready for IVF can mean a lifetime of regret for women who miss their chance and end up not being able to have children.’

It is estimated around one in seven couples in the UK suffer from fertility problems, but many do not seek treatment – evidence suggests around 45 per cent do not have a single appointment to discuss their options for IVF.

Mr Lavery added: ‘Couples not on the same timeline when it comes to IVF can suffer much more stress. Where one partner is not as keen, it can impact relationships and contribute to break-ups.’

An international study asked people aged under 50 who were diagnosed with infertility. It included nine countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and the USA.

Among the 123 patients who did not have a single IVF consultation, 19.5 per cent said this was because ‘my partner was determined to conceive naturally’. This percentage rose to 23.3% among the 103 IVF patients who did have a consultation but didn’t proceed.

Almost 30 per cent said their partner was not as keen as them to have a child ‘by any means necessary’. Two-thirds of patients who received fertility treatment were women, while some were men.

Figures from the UK subset, which includes 27 partners and patients who did not start fertility treatment following a consultation with a doctor, showed that 40% of those who were able to have a natural conception, as well as 40 percent of their loved ones.

It takes more than six years and nine months for the average infertile couple in the UK to have a child – more than five years of trying and 18 months of treatment.