Conceiving babies using IVF rather than naturally could soon become common among couples who have delayed having children until their late thirties or forties, perhaps to pursue a career, say scientists.
A new report says that advances in IVF technology mean it will be possible to produce embryos with a success rate of virtually 100 percent and cultivate them in computer-controlled storage facilities.
The couples may routinely go for IVF rather than sex to reproduce, giving themselves a better chance of conceiving through IVF than young adults in peak condition, who have only a one-in-four chance a month of conceiving naturally, according to the report.
Among over-35s, the chance of natural conception falls to less than one in 10. Modern fertility techniques have meant the healthiest couples already have a 50:50 chance of success using IVF, but the authors of the report say this is just the beginning.
They point to rapid advances in artificial reproduction for farm animals, which have led to a near-100 percent success rate in the production of cattle embryos and claim the technology could easily be adapted for humans.
"We are not quite at that stage yet, but it's where we're heading. Natural human reproduction is at best a fairly inefficient process. Within the next five to 10 years, couples approaching 40 will access the IVF industry first when they want to have a baby," The Times quoted John Yovich, a co-author of the report, as saying.
The report has been published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online.