I've been saying for a long time that I don't believe it's as difficult to get pregnant -- and have a healthy baby -- after 35 as the media portrays it to be. I admit I had no scientific evidence of this -- but I had plenty of with my own eyes evidence because I am surrounded by women who got pregnant, naturally, beyond 35 -- many of them after 40. One of my acquaintances just had her third baby at 44 (with a home birth!). Another is pregnant at 38 after a week of trying. Another ... I could go on and on. And forget friends, just look at the celebrities: Halle Berry, Elaine Irwin, Salma Hayek, so many more.
Now here comes someone much more qualified to smash open the fertility myth than me: Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor, has penned an article questioning everything we know about the supposed "fertility window."
Twenge claims that most fertility studies are based on old studies. VERY old studies. Yep, all that media blather about women's fertility dropping like a stone after the age 35 is apparently as outdated as the idea that women are the "inferior sex." Says Twenge in The Atlantic:
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 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830. The chance of remaining childless -- 30 percent -- was also calculated based on historical populations.
My opinion? The fertility industry -- and that would often include your OB/GYN -- makes too much money on desperate women hoping to get pregnant to correct what might be a fallacy.
I think of a friend of mine who, in her late 30s, casually asked her doctor about her chances of getting pregnant. She hadn't even gone off the pill yet, but despite that, he immediately loaded her up with a bunch of expensive yet dubious fertility "tests" and vitamins.
As for the media -- it loves to scare women about everything.
Twenge says there are actually very few studies about fertility that were conducted in recent times -- but one that was done in 2004 paints a very different picture from what we're led to believe: 82 percent of 35- to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27- to-34-year-olds. And the fertility of women in their 20s and 30s was almost identical.
Of course, there's no guarantee you can get pregnant at 40 -- as you might not have been able to at 20. And if you definitely want to mitigate your risk, then try earlier. But if you have no choice but to wait -- or simply want to wait -- then stop freaking out about it.
Do you think older women have as much a chance of getting pregnant as younger?
Image via Brava_67/Flickr