Gird your loins ladies and gents, you’re about to be shocked and amazed. Did you know that a woman’s fertility actually DECREASES after age 35? I hope I didn’t cause any shock-related strokes, because this is totally and completely NEW NEWS, right? Well, it is if you’re professor Mary Herbert of the Institute for Aging and Health at the University of Newcastle, who wants to get the word out ASAP.
Herbert is worried that more and more women, oblivious to the chromosomal damage that comes with age, are putting off motherhood to pursue other goals. She worries that they don’t understand that “no amount of fertility treatment” can reverse this damage and feels they should have babies before age 35, “while they still have healthy eggs.” According to Herbert, at the British Science Festival:
“What we can say for sure is that reproductive technologies do not do much to buy time. Perhaps the most important message to give is that the best cure of all is to have your babies before this clock strikes 12.”
Herbert spoke at the festival, along with other experts, about fertility and stressed that family planning shouldn’t just involve preventing unwanted pregnancy, but also timing wanted pregnancies, which I think is a valid point. But then she wanders off into sitcom MIL territory with this one:
“I would be getting worried about my daughter if she hadn’t had a child by 35.”
Doesn’t this remind you of something Ray Romano‘s mom would have said on “Everybody Loves Raymond”? What is she going to say next? That our cooking is terrible and we need to do something about our hair? Oh, it gets worse:
“Women tell me it’s their career,” said Prof Herbert. “In a sense I think that’s misguided, because there’s no career where it gets less busy as you go on.”
Oh women, and their silly good-ish careers! When will they learn?
Seriously though, I think Herbert, and her colleagues, make some good points. Women DO need to be informed of all possibilities, and that includes potential risks for having babies later on. But personally, I think they’re beating a dead horse here. This point has been made again and again; it’s no secret. So if you’re going to make the argument for education, great, but leave out the ridiculous career shaming while you’re doing it.