Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I've said it before and I will say it again

If you know you want babies some day, try to have them earlier than later. And please, let's stop keeping secrets from each other about how difficult it actually is to get pregnant when you're not in your 20s anymore.

The following was posted on SFGate's Mommyfiles blog by Amy Graff. 

Many women misinformed when it comes to fertility

Let’s say you’re a newly married, perfectly healthy 30-year-old woman. You and your husband have stable jobs, a three-bedroom house, a Golden Retriever.

In other words, you’re ready to start having kids.

Easy peasy, right? You’re still young. You’ll get pregnant quickly, as the women on television sitcoms do. You’ll soon be changing poopie diapers.

Not so fast. You’re probably not as fertile as you think you are. It could take awhile. That middle school sex-ed teacher who convinced you that you’ll get knocked up anytime the truck drives into the garage was wrong—and he never told you that fertility decreases dramatically with age.

But don’t feel badly about your ignorance. The results of a recent fertility awareness survey reveal that most women think it’s much easier to get pregnant than it really is.

For the study, presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, 1,000 women ages 25 to 35 were asked 10 questions about fertility, and most of them flunked the test, according to MSNBC.
Questions about the likelihood of becoming pregnant across different age groups were answered correctly by only 8 percent of participants. Most women assume a 30-year-old woman has a 70 percent chance of conceiving per month and that a 40-year-old woman has a 60 percent chance. But really a healthy 30-year-old has a 20 percent chance and that number drops to 15 percent at age 40.
Survey respondents also thought it takes an average 20-year-old two months to get pregnant, when it really takes about five months.

What’s more only 31 percent of respondents realize that increasing age is the single strongest risk factor for infertility.

These numbers are troubling because infertility is a huge problem in our country, and 7.3 million women in the U.S. struggle with it. This figure represents 12 percent of women of childbearing age, or 1 in 8 couples, according to the National Infertility Association RESOLVE. You can’t help but wonder if these statistics would improve if women had more accurate information about their fertility and opted to get pregnant sooner rather than later.

Holly Finn, a 43-year-old woman who has suffered from infertility, told MSNBC that she has a simple message for women ages 26 to 34: “Start having babies now.”

Why are women so clueless about fertility?

The researchers behind the study think women are simply misinformed.

Sex education in America focuses on prevention. In middle and high school lessons are focused on preventing pregnancy and STDs. There’s no talk about fertility and how it decreases with age. Many women don’t learn this lesson until they’re 40 years old and step foot inside an infertility clinic.

What’s more, many women in their 40s are successfully using infertility treatments yet they’re secretive about their use of IVF, and this leads other women to think it’s easy to achieve parenthood later in life. And so when a 40-year-old woman tries to get pregnant and fails, she’s shocked.

“We were not at all surprised,” says Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE, told MSNBC. “This is what we experience every day.”


1 comment:

  1. You may remember my last comment on this subject, with me waving a fist from my virtual soapbox in support of you. After years working at a fertility clinic, I could not feel more strongly about this. I think it is a real tragedy when people take a much greater risk than they believe they are taking by waiting, citing reasons that don't matter as much as the thing they want very much (sometimes more than anything else) in their life. Maybe we should start a blog about that. You're with me, right? :) Anyway, I'm glad you posted the good point about women being inundated with information about how easy it is to get pregnant (which is true) as a young teenager but suffering from the inferred misinformation about how easy it will *still* be to get pregnant whenever you wanna. It's a weird thing; fertility is a fearful subject for teenagers and those in our age group and older for exact opposite reasons.