Photo by JSVDP
Over 30? On your mark, get set, get pregnant! Quick! Why? Well, because women have just an eighth of their eggs left by age 30.
The other morning, a local radio shock jock (and mom) brought up this recent scientific finding. Her proposal: all women around age 30 who ever hope to have a child should take the ever-dwindling hope that's left and go get impregnated (with anyone! one night stand! whatever it takes...) as soon as possible.
My proposal: Re-friggin-lax already.
Of course, there are a million reasons the radio personality's argument doesn't work — one being that most women, conservative or liberal, set out with the hopes of adding children to a family unit. This is not to say single moms are bad or ill equipped or that unplanned pregnancies can't turn into extremely positive and satisfying situations.
However, it is to say that raising a child is a whole lot easier with a good partner. Obviously, that doesn't always work out in the end, but that tends to be what most women who get pregnant mindfully are going for.
And maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think you'll find many 30-something women who are having trouble conceiving who'd say, "God, I wish I'd just had a baby with any man who came along back when I had more eggs." Oh, the horror when I think back to what that decision could have meant in my own life. And that's not even getting into the risk of STDs and such.
This kind of headline, to me, seems so incredibly alarmist and anti-woman. The underlying messages?: you will only feel worthwhile if you have a child. You will only be happy if you have a child. You will always regret that you waited if you can't have children later. Choosing to wait until you're ready is selfish. If you wait and can't conceive later, it's no one's fault but your own. Your need for security is selfish. Your happiness does not matter.
And then there's the math that isn't as bad as the headline makes it out to be.
At puberty, most women have about 300,000 to 400,000 eggs. For the sake of argument, let's go with the lower amount. So even with only 12 percent of your eggs left in your 30s, you still conceivably have 36,000 eggs left. And even with only 3 percent of your eggs left in your 40s, you still conceivably have 900 eggs left. All you need is one good one, folks.
Is it easier to conceive in your 20s when you have a lot more eggs? Probably. Does it become improbable after that. Not exactly. If you're in your 30s, particularly early to mid-30s, you still have plenty of time to have a child in a way that feels right for you. And without bringing whatever creepy guy you can find at a bar into the picture.
Obviously, this is not to say we should play dumb and pretend that our fertility doesn't have an end point. Should we wait until we're 100% sure we're ready to have kids? Maybe not. I mean, what's that? Should we wait until we're married? Maybe you want to. Maybe your friend doesn't want to. Both are okay. Should happy couples or willing singles in their late 30s who know they want to have kids keep putting it off year after year so they can get more cocktail parties and home improvements under their belts? It's probably not a bad idea to get a move on.
However, to suggest that a woman should forsake everything she wants and hopes for in life to have a child is just ridiculous. Once your child is a part of your family, of course, they're up there on your life's "best things I ever did" list. As they should be. But if you wait because things didn't work out the way you'd hoped and you miss your (gigantic) window to have a child, I'm guessing you'll probably be grateful you don't have to keep "Mr. Whatshisname" on your "worst things I ever did" list too.
What do you think? At what point should a woman get pregnant any way she can to avoid having trouble conceiving later in her life? Are you TTC and wish you hadn't waited and had simply conceived a child with a random man from your past?