The Fertility Factor


Recently I started reading a book called Start Your Family: Inspiration For Having Babies by Steve and Candice Watters. It's basically a book that addresses the blessings of parenthood and our culture's increasingly negative attitude toward becoming a parent.

Chapter Five contained some startling statistics. I wouldn't consider myself ignorant of infertility at all - after all, I've been dealing with ovulatory infertility for the past ten months. But some of these stats were even surprising for me.

-For women, fertility begins to decline at age 27, the decline quickens after age 35, and by the time a woman is 40 her ability to get pregnant plummets. See Resource 2.

-At age 40, half of a women's eggs are chromosomally abnormal. By age 42, 90% of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal. See Resource 3.

-For men, fertility begins to decline after the age of 35. See Resource 2.

-Only about a third of couples who seek fertility treatment actually leave with a baby, and "that number can fluctuate dramatically depending on the reason a couple can't conceive naturally and the woman's age." See Resource 4.

-In-vitro fertilization treatments (the most technologically advanced method of conceiving, if all else fails) cost around $12,400, and women may need several rounds of IVF to concieve, if they conceive at all. "IVF simply may never work for some older women." See Resource 4.

Derek and I decided when we first got married that we'd like to wait two or three years to have children, just to give us time to get some debt paid off and get used to being married before adding a baby into the mix.

I think most couples today look at a variety of factors when considering when to have children. Those factors may include when they'll be in a good financial situation, when they'll be emotionally ready, where they want to be in their careers before they have children, and it sometimes includes a list of things that they would like to do or explore before having a baby.

But how many of us really consider fertility in our decision of when to have children?

No one really likes to talk about this for some reason, and those who do may be considered pessimistic. But the chances of conceiving decrease the older you get. You won't be infinitely fertile, and the hard fact is that you won't be able to have a baby whenever you want in life.

Why is it that we micro-analyze every other factor of when to have children, but we somehow overlook the most important and practical aspect of that decision - the question of "Will I still be fertile at the time when we want to have our first baby?"

I must admit that I am guilty of this myself. Before we were married, when Derek and I discussed our timeline of having children, the concept of how our fertility would decrease over time didn't even enter the equation. I can't believe I never thought of that before, as I think of it now.

Twenty-seven. Fertility starts to decrease for us women at the age of twenty-seven. I don't know where the rest of you young married ladies are, but that only gives me a few more years before it becomes even harder to have a baby. As if I weren't having enough trouble now.

Sure, there are alot of celebrities who have babies after age forty. But they are the exception, and we don't know how much time and money went into making that possible. Sure, there are many women who get pregnant without any help after 35, but the chances of that happening are far less than if they had started earlier (about 30% as opposed to 50%, Resource 2). And for many couples it just never happens, because they waited too long.

As for me, a woman in my early twenties who is already having struggles with her fertility, I urge you young married ladies out there who are in the midst of deciding when to have children to seriously consider your own fertility as an aspect of that decision. You may be one of those women who can conceive easily at a later age. But then again, you may not be. It's something every couple should have in their minds when making the decision of timing, and the goal of this post is just to get you all thinking about it.

I want each of you to experience every joy that life has to offer, and every blessing the Lord has to give you, but especially the gift of children. And I would hate to see anyone miss out on that blessing because no one brought the fertility factor to their attention when they were still young enough to do something about it.

I'd like to end this post with a quote from Start Your Family. I found this quote to be very encouraging, especially for those of us already struggling with fertility problems. We should be wise concerning our fertility and the timing of babies - but God is still (and always will be) in control, in spite of the struggles we face, even when they result from our own mistakes.

"As I wrote this chapter I thought my fertility window was closing - or more accurately, slamming shut - but then something happened.

Psalm 103 praises the God, "who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle." "He Himself knows our frame," the psalmist instructs, "He is mindful that we are but dust . . . But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him." (5, 14, 17, NASB). We serve a wonder-working God. That's what my doctors - all three of them - concluded when, after three sets of blood tests that confirmed my childbearing years were over, I got pregnant. They all said the same thing: "It's a miracle."

And so as my belly swells, even as I finish the edits on this chapter, I'm reminded that it's our job to be faithful to learn the facts about our bodies and make the most of our fertility. But I also know that God is sovereign over all. It's up to us to do what we can. Then we can trust Him for the rest. We are not without hope."


-Candice Watters, Start Your Family, page 89. Emphasis mine.








Resources:

1. Watters, Steve and Candice; Starting Your Family: Inspiration For Having Babies. Moody Publishers, 2009. Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802458300?ie=UTF8&tag=helgetmar-20&linkCode=xm2&creativeASIN=0802458300.

2. de Vries, Lloyd; "Fertility: Less Time Than You Think", CBSNews.com, April 30, 2002. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/04/30/health/main507580.shtml .

3. Gibbs, Nancy; "Making Time For A Baby". Time.com, April 15, 2002. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1002217-2,00.html.

4. Stenson, Jacqueline; "Have Kids? Sure . . .Someday". MSNBC.com, June 6, 2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17937795/ns/health-pregnancy//.

5. Image from the American Society For Reproductive Medicine Ad Campaign. Image has been cropped for easier viewing on this page. See original ad here: http://www.protectyourfertility.org/pdfs/4up.pdf.
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Jaime said...

whoa. those statistics are astounding. i never knew the numbers. whoa.

Kelley said...

great post! thanks for the insight!

Brittney Galloway said...

Wow, what a wonderfully written post! This is so good! It's everything I try to get across when commenting on others' blogs...from now on I'll just link to this!

So excited you read Start Your Family! It's what convinced me to come off of the pill 11 months ago! I'm right there with you on O issues..

Stephen and Larissa said...

Good post. I actually have thought about that a little. We wanted to wait to have kids until Stephen's army contract was over so we wouldn't have to worry about him missing part of his children's lives. Now that the army has extended his contract by three years, (another sotry for another day and you probably don't want to get me started on that one) it would put us at about 30 which is longer than I wanted to wait due to exactly that reason. I'm completely worried that we'll end up having trouble having kids or somthing and don't want to wait that long. However, I know that God has a plan, it is perfect, and will happen according to His timing. It always has!

katie beth said...

I like the quote at the end. This is something that I think about sort of regularly. I just turned 26 and 1/2, so 27 is coming quickly. I'm at a point where I think the Lord has prepared my heart for a little one, but my husband is not there yet. (Not that he wouldn't be thrilled if it just happened, but he isn't ready for "trying" as the phrase goes). I'm just praying for the Lord's perfect timing in this area.

And I'm praying for you as you are dealing with the ovulatory situation still. I can imagine this weighs heavily on you and I hope you can "Be anxious for nothing but by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Good thoughtful difficult post Callie.

Kristen said...

what a very detailed post. I'm not married, so not having children now but it is hard to believe that at 27 your fertility already goes down. I mean what makes it hard is that at 27 you may still be in school etc. Too bad that age wouldn't push back with the changing demographic that woman are not marrying and having kids at 18 like they used to. :) Anyway, I come home from the land of Oz in 5 days and should be back to being a good bloggy friend!

...::Heather @ Mrs. Southern Bride::... said...

Wow, those statistics are startling. I didn't realize that about IVF. So many women I know struggle with infertility.

Jessica said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this! That scares me...I'll be 27 in a year and a half. I've wanted to read that book for awhile, and I think you just convinced me to.

Felicia said...

It's interesting that a woman's fertility starts declining at the age of 27, because that's the average age women in North America start having children! That's also around the age I have in my head when I think about having children. Now I have something else to think about, I guess.

PS Love the new layout!

Marissa said...

I really want to read that book!

April said...

i can't say any of this is new to me...but, you know that, too...i think. you know that i'm newly married, but later in life (whatever later is). Sometimes, even with the clanging of the clock, we can't change what it means to 'wait' for the right guy. i turned 38 yesterday and found out last week that yet again i'm not pregnant. and, all last week that verse you shared at the end from psalm 103 was running through my head about our youth being renewed like the eagles. i'm clinging to that...

Chloƫ said...

My husband and I were JUST talking about this the night before you posted. I do sometimes (though not often) think about infertility, especially considering the struggles my own parents went through. At the same time, little 'ol selfish me doesn't want kids right now, knowing that they're so much work and so much money and that we don't have the time OR the money for them right now, and honestly, I think our life is just fine for now without them.

On the flip side, I am so excited to be a momma one day, and can't wait to carry around a baby in my belly. We dream up our future kids names all the time.

But yes, what if it's really hard--or impossible for us to conceive? Won't I think "What if we tried earlier? What if we just let God be God? What if I wasn't so selfish and worried about the cares of this world?"

I don't know what the answer is.

It's a struggle for me on my end, and I'm very thankful for this post. You've blessed me, and God knew this timing was perfect. Thanks, Callie :)

LeAnna said...

This was so thoughtfully and well written, and I commend you for addressing this. I know so many women who struggle with infertility. However it is astounding how many of them chose to wait 4-5 years after marriage to start their families, and are now finding themselves 2-4 years into the infertility journey. For some they wish they would have never of waited. Others believe that they would still be where they are even had they of not waited. Regardless, so many wish they hadn't of been so...selfish in the children department. And it breaks my heart. Some women don't believe they were created for the roll of motherhood, but I truly believe that is the Biblical perspective. Though I have never struggled with infertility, I have known the pains of miscarriage. Being a Mom is life changing, boat rocking, and completely molds you into a new person (the way it should). But, it's so worth it.
Have you read Taking Charge of Your Fertility? Lots of good info in there about ovulatory issues. Praying yours resolve, and when the time is right, God blesses you immensely. :)

Ashley said...

That was a great encouragement to me! We are currantly going through our second round of fertitlity treatments and i'm only 26. I am going to have to take a look at that book and I love that it is written by a christian. Thanks Callie!

Sarah Louise said...

A lot of interesting information. Whether or not I will be able to conceive is a thought that has always been in the back of my mind, but I never really thought that if I even waited until I was in my late 20's that I may have a more difficult to getting pregnant than if I were to start in my early 20's.

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