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Sex at 6pm

A personal journey through IVF
by Annarosa Berman / published by New Holland

Fictionalised memoir

In April 2004, The Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend magazine published an article headlined: Time, ladies:
When is the right moment to have children …and why does
it matter so much?. The writer, who had her first child at 37, observed that she was surrounded by contemporaries who were unable to have children, were miscarrying and suffering the assaults of IVF, or who were still bewilderingly casual in their approach to possible parenthood. ‘Grief and confusion reign,’ she concluded.

Sex at 6pm: A personal journey through IVF, is the nitty-gritty, no-holds-barred and very personal account of one woman’s journey through the “grief and confusion” of age-related infertility. It sounds warning bells to women
of childbearing age who continue to believe that medical science has made it easy to start a family after 35.
Written in diary form (in the fertility game, dates are all-important), the story has a strong narrative pull and
the sometimes distressing subject matter is treated in an honest yet humorous way.

Sex at 6pm is a wake-up call: IVF has a success rate
of 45-50 per cent for women aged 25. It drops to 35-40
per cent for 35-year-olds, and by the age of 40 there is
just a 20 per cent chance of falling pregnant through this method. Yet an Australian Institute of Family Studies survey
of beliefs and attitudes to IVF, quoted in The Weekend Australian, September 10-11 2005, found that an astounding 60% of respondents of all ages put faith in IVF as a solution
to fertility problems, even as they aged. The report suggests
that media attention given to IVF success stories may give people “a sense of false security”. After its publication, Professor Michael Chapmen, Chairman of the IVF Directors Group, called on the Federal government to launch an awareness campaign to disabuse Australians of this notion.

Sex at 6pm raises other issues: as it dawns on its
protagonist that the biological clock will not be turned
back, she is confronted by questions such as where
the desire for procreation comes from, how we develop
a sense of belonging, how the concepts of fertility and motherhood define who we are and how these concepts
are experienced by Third World women in the country of
her birth, South Africa. Her experience also leads her
to consider the ways in which we process grief and the damage infertility can do to a marriage.

Sex at 6pm follows the author and her husband on a grueling rollercoaster ride through grief and anger to renewal and contentment, though not in quite the way they had expected.

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