Australia’s first IVF baby wants the next generation to be better educated about fertility health.
Candice Thum, formerly Candice Reed, was born in June 1980 and grew up knowing about her “special” conception.
But it wasn’t until she had her own children that she realised how “brave” her parents had been.
“To do what they had to do to get me, and now all those other parents that have become parents through fertility treatment, it’s just outstanding,” says Thum.
“And to be one of them – an IVFling – I am quite proud of it, and I do want to use that as a platform to get some change,” she says.
The New Zealand-based mum has teamed up with fellow Australian “IVFling”, Rebecca Featherstone Jelen, to push for fertility health to be taught in secondary schools.
Rebecca and Candice. Image supplied.
“We want fertility to go through a bit of a revolution in the same way that mental health has," says Thum.
The pair are advocating a more open discussion around infertility, fertility treatments and health.
"We just want to educate people so they have the right information at the right time and when they go into that stage of life, they’re better prepared for the obstacles that might come up," says Thum.
After holding successful meetings with cross-party teams in Canberra, the pair are now taking their "fertility matters" campaign to each state.
"Ultimately our aim is to change the curriculum, so that there’s more factual conversation about what fertility is, the issues and key facts," says Thum.
The campaigners hope the subject could be included in the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) syllabus.
“There is a big gap in fertility knowledge and we want to change that,” Rebecca Featherstone Jelen said.
"We were shocked how little women our age knew about their fertility health," she added.
"People don't know that one in six couples are affected by fertility issues, that it affects both males and females and age is the biggest preventative in infertility."
The campaigners say they are gathering support from doctors, researchers and politicians.
"We only launched last year but we’ve come a long way. We know that getting into the curriculum is not easy but we’ve got lots of support and are hopefully getting more."