Today The Washington Post reminds young women to have children before they’re too old and their eggs have all dried up. Enjoy that with your morning coffee, ladies!
“That’s a greater percentage of loss at an earlier age than had previously been reported,” says reproductive endocrinologist Robert Stillman, of Shady Grove Fertility in Rockville. “One might be able to argue whether there are 12 percent remaining at age 30 or 22 percent or even 40 percent, but it is still clear that there’s a very rapid loss in the number of eggs available as women age and that the smaller pool of [older] eggs is also more likely to” contain a higher proportion of abnormal eggs, he adds, pointing out that from the mid-30s on, the decline in fertility is much steeper with each passing year.
“This adds to the abundant evidence that for women, unfortunately, it’s use ’em or lose ’em.”
I get the need to disseminate information to women who really, really want children no matter the financial or emotional cost. So to those ladies, hey, guess what? You’re most fertile in your teens and 20s – have at it! But as someone who easily conceived healthy children in my 30s (as did the majority of my friends) every time I hear the alarm I wonder how all of us managed to have children if the statistics are so dire. Anecdotal evidence is not science, so pointing to my girlfriend who had her first child without the use of any medical intervention at 40 won’t win this argument, but I wish the urgency of these reports would be hampered by the reality I see around me at my local mom’s group.
I do have friends who needed medical assistance to conceive, but if they had started earlier they still would have needed that medical assistance. One thing they wouldn’t have had in their 20s were their supportive partners seeing them through a very trying time.
What I hate about this constant drumbeat, is the message that women can’t have it all so they had better start reproducing now. Then, at the least, you’ll have that prized baby. Which is really all women want anyway, right? So saddle yourself with a dependent before you’ve had a chance to discover who you are, before you connect with a partner joining you on this journey and before you’re able to reach personal and career goals. I know that a drop in egg production is a reality, but there are still thousands of eggs left in the pipeline. To tell women under 30 to “use ’em or lose ’em” is dramatically delimiting, especially when I see evidence to the contrary at every PTA meeting I attend.