SHEFFIELD, England, June 21, 2005 ( – The prevalence of infertility in Europe, and presumably in other developed nations, is likely to double in the next 10 years – from one in seven couples now to approximately one in three, according to a UK scientist.

Sheffield University Professor Bill Ledger warned that the increased prevalence of sexually transmitted disease like Chlamydia is robbing women of fertility. Ledger presented his findings at a European conference on fertility. He said that the incidence of chlamydia, a STD that is known to cause infertility, has doubled over the last ten years.

“Young people of today will become tomorrow’s patients in infertility clinics,” he said, according to a BBC report. The alarming increase in Chlamydia rates in young women will lead to dramatic rise in infertility, he said. “Later, when these young women want to become mothers, they find they can’t conceive.”

Professor Ledger also said that the trend for women to focus on their careers while delaying having children until their late 30s is also a major factor, as fertility is greatest in late teens and early 20s. Dr. Ledger warned about the obvious consequences of a population with a 33% infertility rate: “The sustainability of the population of Europe is at risk because there are too few children being born. It is a threat to the future.”

Professor Ledger added, “Women are simply not as fertile after 35,” suggesting that a solution is to entice women to begin having families at a younger age. “It’s easier and more straightforward to do whatever you can to encourage women to have children naturally, rather than waiting to the point at which IVF may be needed.”

The British Fertility Society’s Dr Allan Pacey said, “Nature designed women to have children in probably their late teens and early twenties, and many women are now waiting until they are over 35. The message has to be driven home that the sooner you do it, the more likely it is you will be able to conceive without medical assistance.”