Women’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.