"If you plan to get pregnant you should do this early on in your life" says Anneliese Schwenkhagen who kicks off the session on the future of fertility. As a gynaegolocgist she has thought about her fertility and shares her personal decision of not having children herself. But today women like her would have the option to choose to have children much later.
On stage she is joined by the mother of the pill Carl Djerassi who was part of creating the oral contraceptive pill. He introduces the idea of power relations in sex, which according to him, have a lot to do with women's choices about their fertility. And these power relations are changing in certain parts of the world because sex and reproduction have become divorced in recent years. Sex has become about lust, love or even sport Djerassi says, while reproduction has become a decision rather than an act due to contraception. And still roughly 50% of pregnancies are unexpected or unwanted, which prompted Djerassi to write a play called "The Immaculate Misconception". The versatile professor from Stanford University also presents his latest autobiography, which has just been published and elaborates on the shifting power relations between men and women, through the changes in reproductive technologies.
Carl Djerassi is followed by Annalisa Jenkins who works on investing in the development of medicines at Merck Serono. Her view is that reproductive medicine can empower women. Although she speaks of the paradox of choice when it comes to the conscious decision to have a baby or not. Today's trend is that more women have less children which creates demographic shifts that result in ageing population. Additionally Annalisa Jenkins says that many women don't understand the correlation between age and fertility. "As a woman in her forties is not old, her ovaries are," say Jenkins.