Sex could become purely recreational by 2050 with large numbers of babies in the Western world born through IVF, the professor who invented the contraceptive pill says.

Professor Carl Djerassi, an Austrian-American chemist and author, said the pill would become obsolete because men and women would choose to freeze their eggs and sperm when young before being sterilised.

He also claims it would end abortions, as no pregnancies would be unplanned. Professor Djerassi said advances in fertility treatment made it much safer for prospective parents who do not have fertility problems to consider IVF.

The progress will give rise to a "manana generation" who are safe in the knowledge that parenthood can be delayed without repercussions, he claims, using the Spanish for "tomorrow". They may even have healthier children because their eggs and sperm would be frozen when they were younger.

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"Women in their 20s will first choose this approach as insurance, providing them with freedom in the light of professional decisions, or the absence of the right partner, or the inexorable ticking of the biological clock."

Djerassi, 91, is an emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University.