Thanks to my mother's generation who fought so hard for our rights in the workplace, these days many women earn graduate degrees and pursue careers before settling down to get married and/or have families.
Personally I love my work, and I am deeply grateful for the liberty to run my own business and not be chained to domestic responsibilities.
Unfortunately for many career women, a delay in baby-making results in problems getting pregnant later in life.
I'm not one to put blind faith into statistics and studies, but when it comes to rising infertility rates, the numbers get a nod.
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, approximately 20% of women now wait until after age 35 to begin their families, and one-third of women over 35 will have problems with fertility.
For the average 30 year old woman, there's a 20% chance of conception with unprotected sex, and this decreases to 5% by the time she is 40 years old. (source)
The fact is, we are actually designed to make babies when we are young.
In our culture, teen pregnancies are thankfully frowned upon. But biology has yet to catch up, and girls come into child-bearing years while still considered children themselves.
Certainly, I am not suggesting that our teens should start procreating, but as we age so does our fertility. As most women reach their mid-30's their ovarian reserves begins to wane, and egg quality declines.
The media does us no favors, showing us attractive women in their late 40's happily pushing infant twins in a stroller on the way to the park, and presenting research indicating that older women will have smarter and healthier babies. (source)
What tabloids don't reveal however, is how many cycles of IVF failed before a successful pregnancy occurred, how much drugs the mother needed to inject and ingest, how many tens-of-thousands of dollars were spent, and whether or not these babies were born via donor egg, donor sperm and/or a surrogate to carry their baby.
Don't get me wrong. Reproductive medicine is a miracle of science, but an extremely expensive (and often emotionally draining) miracle, yielding lower and lower margins of success with each passing year of age.
Women do not necessarily have to give up other dreams and aspirations in order to have a family…
But we could use certainly use a bit more education about the facts and our options – and the sooner the better.
Yes, age is an undeniable factor when it comes to a woman's capacity to get pregnant and have a healthy baby, BUT there are also more ‘older' women having babies than ever before. Between 1990 and 2008 the number of pregnancies for women age 40-44 increase 65%. (source)
This statistic is no doubt driven by delayed family planning and advances in reproductive medicine, but the fact remains that older women are having babies.
So what sets apart women who are able to conceive from those who are not?
When we look beyond statistical data there is a plethora of contributing factors that will affect an individual's fertility (both female and male). Everything from genetics to diet and environment to attitude plays a role in overall health and fertility.
Age is a factor but it's not the only one.
In upcoming posts about fertility we will take a look at how what we eat, how we handle stress, how we navigate the toxic elements of the modern world, and even how we find joy can effect our ability to conceive.
Whether you are struggling with fertility or haven't even started thinking about babies yet, by educating yourself on your options you will be more empowered to have the family you envision. Sign up for email updates below to be sure not to miss a post on this important topic!
Are you an ‘older' mom?