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Contraceptive pill scientist predicts sex will be recreational only in the future

By Grace Dent

By 2050, we will be having sex purely for fun - hooray - and not for boring, procreational purposes. All the vital, but arduous, baby-making business will be conducted in clinics via IVF. These are the predictions of Professor Carl Djerassi (91), one of the developers of the contraceptive Pill.

Djerassi believes the Pill will be made obsolete as it becomes routine for young people to freeze their eggs and their sperm and then seek sterilisation. This will leave sex as recreational only.

Obviously, this slightly overlooks all the non-fun reasons why men and women will carry on having sex - yes, human beings have non-baby-making sex for a lot of reasons other than fun, although Djerassi, in his rather dystopian prediction, has identified that the future may be lacking in "trying-for-a-baby-sex", which is the least fun sex of all.

Indeed, some babies are made in an earth-shattering crash of mutual bliss, but many more are born after a demented-looking woman in a coffee-stained dressing gown shouts: "I don't bloody care if your car is about to get clamped and you have gastroenteritis, I am only fertile for another 19 minutes!"

Most men weeping at the announcement that their partner is pregnant are partially crying with joy that baby-making-sex is temporarily suspended.

Still, it is hard to see Djerassi's speculation - millions of young people rejecting natural means and cheerily planning future IVF - and think of it as anything less than a massive, man-made systemic mess.

I do wonder, however, when thinking about the current pressure men and women suffer to combine real life with the brief fertility window, if Djerassi's "mess" is less chaotic and unworkable than the mess many British women are actually in at the present time.

Presently, following the past 50 years of progress in female equality, we are instructing our bright young girls, quite rightly, to concentrate at school and stay until at least 18.

Then they should hop off to university, take time to travel, avoid pregnancy during their early 20s, find a rewarding career, one with room to grow, try not to make a mess of their careers by falling pregnant in their early 30s.

And then, at the age of about 35 - and not before a baby-friendly house is purchased via the combined incomes of themselves and a partner - only then should they perhaps try for a baby.

At this point, many women realise that although they feel very young - and their friends say they pass for 29 - their ovaries and those nitpickers down at the assisted fertility clinic disagree.

And if only achieving one baby was enough - it's only a family in many people's eyes when you've managed two. Currently, women are snookered.

Perhaps, instead of spending 20 years of anxiety over the bind that equality has given us, we could have the entire thing spelled out to us at GCSE age, along with some handy leaflets for the nearest egg-freezing bank?

Of course, one of the flaws in Djerassi's neat solution is that this paints IVF as a rather jolly, routine procedure, a bit like having a deep-tissue massage, or having one's eyebrows tinted.

Clearly this is, medically speaking, nonsense. A quick visit to the waiting room of any IVF clinic will show you a group of women even more hacked off with life's hand than the women who fell pregnant "stupidly" when aged 28, wrecked their careers and have spent the last decade holidaying in a static caravan by the seaside.

The IVF process - and I can't help think it won't be much different in 2050 - is an arduous, never-ending hospital rendezvous, where strangers in white coats inject you with booster hormones that might make you sick, or hairy, or weepy, or all three at once. It is a loveless cacophony of prodding with cold instruments with invoices for approximately £500 a time.

It is a tiring expedition into the land of medics who never quite meet your gaze as your gaze says: "Will I have a baby?"

And these people are not in the business of making actual promises and they're very busy and they've not even had time for breakfast yet.

I have thought about Djerassi's bright new IVF vision and have concluded that for future generations, having babies the very, very old-fashioned way - rumpy-pumpy with little thought about future plans other than the fag afterwards - may be really rather preferable after all.

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