I didn't realize until I was engaged to be married -- in my early 30s -- that my parents worried I might never find a suitable spouse. But I was blessed with a wonderful man and our first child came along not even a year after our wedding. Our second came shortly after that. And we're still hoping for more. Waiting and hoping. I'm not going to lie -- it's tough. On a recent visit to my doctor, she told me what I already knew. I'm 37 and that means it's much more difficult to get pregnant. She suggested I think about running tests and helping things along medically.
I'd always known that it was a good idea to have your children young, if you were able. That didn't work out for me because I wasn't even married. Other people have trouble conceiving even at a young age. These issues are nothing if not difficult. But another problem is that we lie to women about their chances of getting pregnant later in life.
Nearly every cultural message we receive -- and every message I ever received from school teachers, female college faculty or other mentors -- was that women should put their career first, take plenty of "me" time before marriage and delay children until you're "ready." The result is that people know very little about the science of fertility. Note this story:
The poll of 1,000 women ages 25 to 35 who had talked to doctors about fertility found that participants could correctly answer seven out of 10 basic questions less than half the time. The Fertility IQ 2011 Survey found that women were wrong most often about how long it takes to get pregnant — and about how much fertility declines at various ages.
“We were not at all surprised,” says Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE. “This is what we experience every day.”
Most women simply don’t realize that at 30, a healthy woman has about a 20 percent chance of conceiving per month and by the time she reaches 40, her odds drop to about 5 percent, Collura said.
Instead, many of those surveyed thought that a 30-year-old woman would have a 70 percent chance of conceiving and that a 40-year-old’s chances could approach 60 percent.
It makes me angry! I have so many friends who were sold a bill of goods about how easy it would be to get pregnant later on. It's not true and nothing is more frustrating than facing down a clock while you try to grow your family.
Obviously I have nothing against getting married later in life or starting a family later -- it's my own story -- but the cultural norms should be radically shifted.
Is it too much to ask that we simply acknowledge the truth? That fertility declines dramatically as we age and that complications for mother and baby increase at the same time?
I'm not a feminist but I see no reason that feminism must be anti-science. It serves no one.