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Doina Ionescu

Managing Director, Merck Healthcare UK and Ireland

One in six people globally will experience challenges with fertility.1 Despite this, fertility journeys are still a taboo for many.

A simple search online will tell you that laser eye surgery costs between £2k–4k or detail the exact process and timeframe for plastic surgery recovery. But while fertility is also an important therapy area, there is not enough open discussion about it.  

Important fertility factors 

Young people in particular, while living in an age of empowerment and career focus, are shielded from talk about fertility. However, it’s not true empowerment if we shy away from having conversations about fertility choices. Crucially, many young people are unaware that their lifestyle choices can impact fertility later (e.g. alcohol, smoking, STIs, drug or steroid use). 

Fertility trends with younger generations 

This lack of open discussion and stigma is not going unnoticed. In Merck’s latest annual survey of over 7,500 19 to 36-year-olds across Europe, in the UK, 65% wanted more public awareness of infertility, and 61.2% want that stigma tackled.  

Last year, the survey showed that 16% of UK women under 30 decided to postpone their maternity plans as a result of the pandemic. Knowledge is power, but timing is everything with fertility; women’s fertility and number of eggs drops from 2 million at birth to around 25,000 by age 37.2   

16% of UK women under 30 decided to postpone
their maternity plans as a result of the pandemic.

Age and IVF success rates 

Taking IVF as an example, it can be a two-year wait for eligibility, one to two for tests and another year or more for treatment. Women aged 30 have roughly a 20% success rate, and over 35, that drops to less than 10%.3 What does all this mean? It means it is a numbers game; this is a mantra we have heard from many patients in our years of fertility expertise.  

At Merck, we are committed to empowering young people to know their options, especially with challenging NHS waitlists. We invest time and resources in sharing accessible fertility facts for all — both patients and healthcare professionals. We hope that by having more conversations about fertility, we can continue our mission to help create, improve and prolong lives.  

[1] WHO. Infertility factsheet. Available from: – Infertility. Accessed: August 2023
[2] British Fertility Society. A Guide to Fertility. Available from: . Accessed: August 2023
[3] American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Age and fertility. A guide for patients. 2012. Available at . Accessed: August 2023

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