Study Shows Some 40+ IVF Moms To Be Utterly Flabbergasted They’re Not Popping Out Babies Like Crazy

infertility IVFWomen’s perceptions of their own fertility continues to be an area of perpetual mixed messages in our modern times. While I can’t stand it every time The New York Times and other outlets frames older women as clueless yoga bunnies, much of this research does seem to highlight a pretty profound disconnect.

The latest look into 40+ mothers and their seeming lack of uterus comprehension comes from MyHealthNewsDaily, which found that half of women from a 61-family study were “shocked” that they needed fertility treatments. The diagnosis was not positive, guys:

“We found that women did not have a clear understanding of the age at which fertility begins to decline,” the researchers wrote in their study, published online Nov. 30 in the journal Human Reproduction… “Very few participants had considered the possibility that they would need IVF, and 44 percent reported being ‘shocked’ and ‘alarmed’ to discover that their understandings of the rapidity of age-related reproductive decline were inaccurate,” the researchers wrote.

Thirty-one percent of these ladies imagined that they would get pregnant “without difficulty” at 40. Now, it’s worth clarifying that women absolutely have the possibility of getting pregnant following the big 3-5 milestone. But these are the odds you’re looking at, even if you do get a little help:

A long with a decline in the chance of conceiving naturally, the chance of successfully having a baby via IVF  also declines with age — the chance of success with one cycle of IVF treatment drops from 41 percent at age 35, to 4 percent after age 42.

The origins of such misconceptions ranged from too much Halle Berry, Sarah Jessica Parker consumption (i.e.  “Everyone’s having babies at 42 … all the superstars are having them.”) to observations of their own mother’s or sister’s fertility to some residual fears about how easy it was to get pregnant as an adolescent.

But no matter, as even when a quarter of these women were asked if they would have had babies earlier, they said no way. No regrets on delaying motherhood:

… “personal-life circumstances would not have encouraged them to begin childbearing earlier than they did,” the researchers wrote.

Such findings gel pretty well with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s findings that one in five ladies are now having their first baby after age 35. A reported eightfold increase since a generation ago. Nevertheless, these researchers observed, based on additional studies, that “the general public is not aware of the extent of this decline [in fertility].”

Which means, by all means, have babies later. Put career first if that suits you. But as women give birth later, more education is needed to properly inform prospective mothers about the personal decisions they are making for themselves and their bodies. That way, everybody — the childless, the young mothers, the older mothers — has the capacity to play their own LIFE game precisely how they want to.

(photo: Maxi_m / Shutterstock)
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  • Fondue

    To somebody dealing with fertility issues, your title sounds very flippant and insensitive. We’re not “flabbergasted that we’re not “popping out babies”, we’re heartbroken that it’s not as easy for us to conceive as it is for others.

  • Andrea

    This very website has posted an article supposedly debunking the myth that it is harder to get pregnant after 35.

    Look I think the whole thing sucks. I think it is unfair as hell that having babies later in life is so much harder for us than for the men. Specially when you consider how much better off we tend to be financially, emotionally, etc in our mid 30s. But the truth is it IS harder. Unfair and it sucks, but it’s the truth.

    “Studies” showing that the whole thing is a myth do nothing but cause even more heartbreak.

  • sparklesmcgee

    I considered myself pretty well informed about fertility when I delayed trying to conceive until aged almost 33. But one thing my reading never turned up was that along with a sharp decrease in fertility after 35 comes an ever-increasing risk of miscarriage. So even when IVF is finally successful, there’s something like a 25% chance the foetus will be miscarried. This horrifying scenario has played out many times among my friends as we’ve gotten older. I agree that most of us have imperfect knowledge of our fertility and that should probably be improved.

    • Andrea

      Do you feel like our bodies haven’t evolved enough to catch up with modern times? I mean think about it: how many women are ready (enough money, a secure job/career, a willing partner, etc) at age 25? That supposedly the prime age? How can you have it together by then in this day and age?

      It sucks SO MUCH that it is almost like our bodies betray us when in fact what we are trying to do is give our (theoretical) children a good life by having a partner, being financially secure, being emotionally prepared, etc. It seems to me like science ought to have overcome this physical barrier by now.

      And it doesn’t seem like it has. What are the IVF odds? I am not familiar, but from everything I hear, it is a tough process that is not successful most times. And like you said, apparently the risk of miscarriage (not to mention the risks during pregnancy and to the health of the baby) is higher too. Why does this have to be? Why haven’t we evolved to keep up with modern demands? (Rhetorical questions)

    • Advocate

      You are betraying your body by thinking it should wait around til you feel ready. I feel for those with fertility problems butif you wake up at 45 and decide to get pregnant and can’t, it was your choice. Society makes us think we need to be in a perfect place to be a half decent parent and its false. Own the uncertainty, worry, and risk of becoming a parent. Even the most prepared face challenges. I am sick of the privileged idea, blaming society not you, that every child needs its own room and brand new clothes and management+ level parent to thrive and succeed. If you are concerned about being a good parent, you are ahead of the game and probably will be.

  • Lastango

    For professional women who have been focused on their career, there’s a double-whammy here. Not only is it difficult to get pregnant after 35, it’s hard to find good husband material too. That’s a lot of pressure to be under… watching those windows close.

    I’m bringing that up because apparently a lot of women are surprised on both counts. I’ve been reading lately about women who somehow felt those flocks of promising men they socialized with at college would always be there, and always want them.

    Here’s one. Time just sort of snuck up on her while she was thinking about other things.

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