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Jan. 29 2010 - 1:38 pm | 463 views | 0 recommendations | 73 comments

Trying to decide if you want kids? Relax, your eggs are already dead

I'm pregnant, and I'm beautiful

Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Well, happy Friday to you! A chipper new study reveals that the wombs of those of us over 30 are already practically eggless. Oh, and, by the way, “women who put off childbearing for too long could have difficulty ever conceiving.”

The study published by the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University in Scotland found that women have lost 90 percent of their eggs by the time they are 30 years old, and only have about 3 percent remaining by the time they are 40.

I guess that means that the thirtysomethings among us who’ve been carefully avoiding unplanned pregnancy for years should just chill. And also, if you’re 29 and you’ve been thinking long and hard about what kind of mom you’d be, whether you have the financial resources and/or partner stability to have a baby, or even whether you should really bring a child into the world in this day and age, stop your dilly-dallying and get to it!

As Good Morning America’s medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard so helpfully points out, “That biological clock does tick.”

Maybe it just galls me because I’m about to turn 34. But is this a warning we ladies really need?


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  1. collapse expand

    Ladies and Gentlemen, consider this: it’s not just a matter of having the baby in your mid to late 30’s, but caring for an active teen well in to your 50’s.

    I’ll be in that situation myself, and the older I get the more worrisome that notion gets.

  2. collapse expand

    Maybe I’m crazy but I feel like the 50s are still on the young side. And hanging with a teen in your 50s will keep you young, while having a baby when you’re 20 will age you before your time. Maybe?

  3. collapse expand

    It is a sad fact that biology trumps desire, i.e. desire for a kid at 38 or 45 or 53, or whenever the Hollywood celebs are having them. I attended an infertility conference a few years ago and there was no sugar-coating what every doctor said — over 40 it gets much, much more difficult, and starts even earlier if you don’t start trying in time to discover what might be problematic in time to address it.

    No one wants to hear it. No one wants to be rushed into marriage or motherhood, but if your deepest wish is to bear a child, you may have to front-burner the whole thing. Sorry.

    • collapse expand

      Wow.. life doesn’t always work out the way you might like to plan it Caitlin. Some of us just have to do the best with what circumstances we’ve got. In the case of my Grandma, during her ‘most fertile years’ her husband was kind of busy serving in that pesky WWII.

      Thank God – for several dozen of my family members wouldn’t be alive today – that there weren’t naysayers like you telling her when it’s ok to conceive!

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I’ve been thinking about what really bugs me about the female fertility message. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the actual lack of fertility after a certain age – I mean, that sucks, but it’s something I’ve been fully aware of for a long time. What irritates me is how these studies crop up at least once a year to REMIND us. Hey ladies, you think you can have it all? Well, you can’t! Na na na na boo-boo.

      Most women I know are keenly aware, especially if single and over 30, that their childbearing years have an end-date. It colors how they date, why they date, who they date, and if they date … we haven’t forgotten, trust me, whether we know we want kids or not. So why do scientists persist in constantly reminding us that our egg-days are numbered? It’s just … mean! And where are all the studies reminding older men that their sperm may not be swimming as fast as they used to, for that matter, so maybe they should actually get serious and start a family?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    Just tune out those scientists sweetie… they’ve spent so much time worrying about Darwin’s theory of natural selection that they’ve become obsessed with trying to convince the more educated women in society (who tend to wait longer to have children) to have more children to offset the mass production of babies among ‘the rabble’.

    Don’t quote me on that – it’s just a hunch – but i have spent an inordinate amount of time among academic types and have heard the same concerns on more than a few occasions.

    • collapse expand

      I agree with Caitlin and with Andy and Jen. How is that possible?

      Because I like hearing the facts of fertility from sober doctors at a lecture or seminar, like Caitlin describes and not sensationalized and guilt laden on morning TV and in articles. Jen and Andy don’t like that either, and I bet Caitlin doesn’t.

      And I like Andy’s grandmother’s advice and tend to live by it myself.

      If it weren’t for my own family history, the fear mongering of women waiting to have children would have affected me and influenced me far more than it has.

      I accept the facts of fertility. Keep in mind they are all averages and mean ratios too.

      In my family women reach menopause later and many women in my family, not all, traditionally, going back a hundred years or more, conceived later, with no adverse consequences,

      Recently there was an article revealing the results of a study showing that men who conceive late cause greater birth defects. Semen, it seems, degrades with age too. SO where is the sensationalized guilt trip to go along with that news?? An article or two then dead silence?

      Anyway, yes, conception and childbearing becomes harder in your 40s, but not impossible, not even improbable.

      Women having their first child at age 39 or 40 is common in my family going back a 100 years, maybe more but we never researched back that far.

      My grandmother was engaged 2 times before finally getting married. She returned two engagement rings. When you are Catholic with no such thing as divorce, and independent in spirit at it is the 1920s, you are picky. You make sure you get it right.

      She got it right and had two children, one of which was my mother. Both children were very well formed and healthy and given birth to without Cesarean or anything, at nine months. They did this with the medical support and knowledge of the early 20th century, not the early 21st century we live in now. The two children were five years apart. They both went to college, were great students with no learning disabilities or anything like that.

      What I don’t like about even the legitimate statistical information out there is that the message is being driven home so hard, it is causing women in their early 40s to decide not to even look into the question, not to even discuss it with their doctors, to consider it a closed question, too late.

      It also is creating an understanding that this is true in people all around us so that you get this look like you are nuts if you say you might have kids.

      You know, it is the same phenomenon that incessant crime reporting causes on TV, it makes people feel like there is a murderer or child abductor on every corner. You’d never dream there are so many healthy kids born to older parents, and you’d never dream that that isn’t a new phenomenon. There have been older parents for hundreds of years, hundreds.

      That said, statistically there will be more miscarriages, there are more birth defects and there may be more difficulty conceiving for some people.

      But look at the stats, are we talking half the cases or even 10 percent?

      My two cents. Thanks for writing about this.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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