Added: Jamarkus Bowens - Date: 15.02.2022 07:47 - Views: 29303 - Clicks: 5250
I put off telling my parents about the split for weeks, hesitant to disappoint them. When I finally broke the news, they were, to my relief, supportive and understanding. I know you want to have kids. Within corporate America, 42 percent of the professional women interviewed by Hewlett had no children at age 40, and most said they deeply regretted it. Just as you plan for a corner office, Hewlett advised her readers, you should plan for grandchildren. Female fertility, the group announced, begins to decline at I had always wanted children. I frequently passed the time in airports by chatting up frazzled mothers and babbling toddlers—a 2-year-old, quite to my surprise, once crawled into my lap.
But, suddenly single at 30, I seemed destined to remain childless until at least my mids, and perhaps always. It upset me so much that I began doubting my divorce for the first time. If at all. I was lucky: within a few years, I married again, and this time the match was much better. But my new husband and I seemed to face frightening odds against having children. Most books and Web sites I read said that one in three women ages 35 to 39 would not get pregnant within a year of starting to try. Every time I read these statistics, my stomach dropped like a stone, heavy and foreboding.
Had I already missed my chance to be a mother? The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on an article published in in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from to The chance of remaining childless—30 percent—was also calculated based on historical populations.
In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these s are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not. Surprisingly few well-deed studies of female age and natural fertility include women born in the 20th century—but those that do tend to paint a more optimistic picture.
It found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of toyear-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of toyear-olds. The fertility of women in their late 20s and early 30s was almost identical—news in and of itself. Another study, released this March in Fertility and Sterility and led by Kenneth Rothman of Boston University, followed 2, Danish women as they tried to get pregnant.
Among women having sex during their fertile times, 78 percent of toyear-olds got pregnant within a year, compared with 84 percent of toyear-olds. A study headed by Anne Steiner, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the of which were presented in June, found that among and year-olds who had been pregnant before, 80 percent of white women of normal weight got pregnant naturally within six months although that percentage was lower among other races and among the overweight. Even some studies based on historical birth records are more optimistic than what the press normally reports: One found that, in the days before birth control, 89 percent of year-old women were still fertile.
Another concluded that the typical woman was able to get pregnant until somewhere between ages 40 and Fertility does decrease with age, but the decline is not steep enough to keep the vast majority of women in their late 30s from having . And that, after all, is the whole point. I am now the mother of three children, all born after I turned My oldest started kindergarten on my 40th birthday; my youngest was born five months later.
All were conceived naturally within a few months. The toddler in my lap at the airport is now mine. Instead of worrying about my fertility, I now worry about paying for child care and getting three children to bed on time. These are good problems to have. Yet the memory of my abject terror about age-related infertility still lingers. Every time I tried to get pregnant, I was consumed by anxiety that my age meant doom.
I was not alone. Those who have already passed the dreaded birthday ask for tips on how to stay calm when trying to get pregnant, constantly worrying—just as I did—that they will never have . How did the baby panic happen in the first place? Fertility doctors see the effects of age on the success rate of fertility treatment every day. Many studies have examined how IVF success declines with age, and these statistics are cited in many research articles and online forums. Yet only about 1 percent of babies born each year in the U. And the IVF statistics tell us very little about natural conception, which requires just one egg rather than a dozen or more, among other differences.
Modern birth records are uninformative, because most women have their children in their 20s and then use birth control or sterilization surgery to prevent pregnancy during their 30s and 40s. Studies asking couples how long it took them to conceive or how long they have been trying to get pregnant are as unreliable as human memory.
Another problem looms even larger: women who are actively trying to get pregnant at age 35 or later might be less fertile than the average over woman. Some highly fertile women will get pregnant accidentally when they are younger, and others will get pregnant quickly whenever they try, completing their families at a younger age. Those who are left are, disproportionately, the less fertile. These modern-day research problems help explain why historical data from an age before birth control are so tempting. However, the downsides of a historical approach are numerous.
Advanced medical care, antibiotics, and even a reliable food supply were unavailable hundreds of years ago. Less-frequent sex might have been especially likely if couples had been married for a long time, or had many children, or both. Having more children of course makes it more difficult to fit in sex, and some couples surely realized— eureka! Some historical studies try to control for these problems in various ways—such as looking only at just-married couples—but many of the same issues remain.
Studies based on cycle viability use a prospective rather than retrospective de—monitoring couples as they attempt to get pregnant instead of asking couples to recall how long it took them to get pregnant or how long they tried. They do, but no journal article I could locate contained these s, and none of the experts I contacted could tell me what data set they were based on. Dunson, a biostatistics professor, thought the lower s might be averages across many cycles rather than the chances of getting pregnant during the first cycle of trying.
More women will get pregnant during the first cycle than in each subsequent one because the most fertile will conceive quickly, and those left will have lower fertility on average. Most fertility problems are not the result of female age. Blocked tubes and endometriosis a condition in which the cells lining the uterus also grow outside it strike both younger and older women. Fertility problems unrelated to female age may also explain why, in many studies, fertility at older ages is considerably higher among women who have been pregnant before.
The rates of miscarriages and birth defects rise with age, and worries over both have been well ventilated in the popular press. But how much do these risks actually rise? Many miscarriage statistics come from—you guessed it—women who undergo IVF or other fertility treatment, who may have a higher miscarriage risk regardless of age. Nonetheless, the National Vital Statistics Reports , which draw data from the general population, find that 15 percent of women ages 20 to 34, 27 percent of women 35 to 39, and 26 percent of women 40 to 44 report having had a miscarriage.
These increases are hardly inificant, and the true rate of miscarriages is higher, since many miscarriages occur extremely early in a pregnancy—before a missed period or pregnancy test. What about birth defects? However, the probability of having with a chromosomal abnormality remains extremely low.
Even at early fetal testing known as chorionic villus sampling , 99 percent of fetuses are chromosomally normal among year-old pregnant women, and 97 percent among year-olds. At 45, when most women can no longer get pregnant, 87 percent of fetuses are still normal. Many of those that are not will later be miscarried. In the near future, fetal genetic testing will be done with a simple blood test, making it even easier than it is today for women to get early information about possible genetic issues.
W hat does all this mean for a woman trying to decide when to have children? More specifically, how long can she safely wait? First, while the data on natural fertility among modern women are proliferating, they are still sparse. Collectively, the three modern studies by Dunson, Rothman, and Steiner included only about women 35 or older, and they might not be representative of all such women trying to conceive. Second, statistics, of course, can tell us only about probabilities and averages—they offer no guarantees to any particular person. The data, imperfect as they are, suggest two conclusions.
The bottom line for women, in my view, is: plan to have your last child by the time you turn There is no single best time to have . Having children at a young age slightly lowers the risks of infertility and chromosomal abnormalities, and moderately lowers the risk of miscarriage.
But it also carries costs for relationships and careers. Literally: an analysis by one economist found that, on average, every year a woman postpones having children le to a 10 percent increase in career earnings. Some women choose to freeze their eggs, having a fertility doctor extract eggs when they are still young say, early 30s and cryogenically preserve them.
Because the eggs will be younger, success rates are theoretically higher. Women who already have a partner can, alternatively, freeze embryos, a more common procedure that also uses IVF technology. At home, couples should recognize that having sex at the most fertile time of the cycle matters enormously, potentially making the difference between an easy conception in the bedroom and expensive fertility treatment in a clinic.
I wish I had known all this back in the spring of , when the media coverage of age and infertility was deafening. I did, though, find some relief from the smart women of Saturday Night Live. That would have worked out great. Sylvia, um, thanks for reminding me that I have to hurry up and have a baby. Uh, me and my four cats will get right on that.
Eleven years later, these four women have eight children among them, all but one born when they were older than Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe. Millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment.Women at 30 years old
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