The BBC’s recent documentary, Too Old to Be a Mum? focused on the cases of three women around the world, aged 59, 63 and 70, who have recently had children through IVF. Then today – a story in the Daily Mail appeared regarding Karen Johnston, who had twins at aged 54. Clearly, thanks to the treatment, all of these women were not too old to be a mum.
But perhaps what we should be asking is not can we treat them, but should we. In the case of 59-year-old Sue Tollefsen in the UK, she was seen battling the common misconception that her daughter was her grandchild. She was refused infertility treatment in the UK originally because of her age, and so turned to clinics in Russia, where the guidelines are much less strict.
And yet now I read she has recently been approved in principle for a cycle of IVF at a London clinic, which claims to not impose an age limit and to take ‘every case on its merits’.
At Manchester Fertility, the maximum age for women seeking our help is 50. Many NHS clinics draw the line at 40. As science ever advances, and more infertility breakthroughs occur, we’ll be asking this question more and more. It shouldn’t be a case of yes we will but yes, should we? Otherwise we’ll see a huge role reversal. Where children become the mothers because their elderly parent needs care.