Believe it or not, your mom was right about many of the basics of fertility. We tend to coast along with the smug knowledge that we can freeze our eggs, get a surrogate, or go to a fertility clinic for all the answers. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
Science and your healthcare plan can only achieve so much. Next time she asks when you're going to settle down and start thinking about kids, try talking to your mom. She actually kind of knows what's up. Here are some of your mom's golden oldies and what they mean in the realm of fertility.
#1: You're not getting any younger.
This is the big one. For men, age isn't as important as it is for women who want to have children one day. Turns out, you do have a biological clock, and it's set for age 35. Research shows that egg quantities and quality decrease exponentially after the big 3-5. After that, you may start hearing awesome terms like "geriatric pregnancy" and "low ovarian reserve."
Courtesy of Daily Dot
#2: You don't want to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
Women are born with all of the eggs they'll ever have. Over time, they get ovulated, die off, or degenerate. Not a pretty picture, I know. As you start stepping toward the light of age 40, you are literally scraping the bottom of your proverbial egg barrel. Read this opinion piece by the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians for more information on this.
#3: Money doesn't grow on trees.
Most people don't think about fertility treatment because they think it's too expensive. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the longer you wait, the more expensive it will be. While freezing your eggs seems like a hefty expense, especially with storage fees, it is MUCH more effective when done at an age when your eggs are still good. A healthy 20-something can produce dozens of eggs under stimulation, freeze them, and have them for later if she's not ready to conceive for many years. A decade or two later and that same woman may have to undergo multiple egg harvesting procedures because she is only producing a few eggs with each stimulation cycle. Did I mention the cost of those stim drugs is often over $10,000 PER MONTH? Most good health insurance plans cover some sort of fertility treatment and don't care if you're married or not. Apple, Facebook, and Google made headlines when they included egg harvesting and storage for their female employees. This isn't as radical as you think!
Courtesy of AgAmerica
#4: I don't care who started it.
Okay, so this one is usually applied to fights between you and your bossy older sister, but this definitely applies to fertility as well. Your ovaries really couldn't care less about whether or not you're dating someone with a good job, his own place, and a 401K. Having a child is an individual choice, regardless of your life circumstances. Let that sink in. You don't have to have a partner to have a child. Over the years, women have started to focus more on having fulfilling lives, careers, and Instagram accounts. Unfortunately, biology doesn't give a rat's patootie. Not waiting for Prince Charming may mean getting a sperm donor or even an adopted embryo, but there are a whole host of options for people who want to conceive on their own.
#5: No one said life is fair.
Remember when you went on The Pill because it was easy? The downside is, and no one ever tells you this, you now have no clue what your cycles are actually like until you go off of it. Birth control pills give you an artificial sense of normalcy by creating a typical menstrual cycle courtesy of pharmacological intervention. Once you decide to "start trying" and stop taking them, you may realize that you're not regular at all. Worse, you may have stopped ovulating on your own and might not even know it. This happens to so many married couples who realize too late that something is amiss.
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Okay, you've got my attention. Now what?
Start by taking a long hard look at your life goals. Are children definitely in the picture? If so, take charge of your own wellness and make an appointment to speak to a fertility specialist. If you're nearing or past 35, don't wait until you're in a committed relationship or married; just take the bull by the horns and find out what's going on in your ovaries. Men can take a voluntary semen analysis test very easily. Once you have an idea of what your fertility prospects are, talk to the clinic about your options. If your insurance offers fertility benefits, this should all be covered just like any other medical procedures. Don't be scared to make a plan, and make sure to thank your mom for all her nagging over the years. You're going to need her to babysit.
Do you have questions about infertility? Have you struggled with it yourself? Let us know in the comments below.