Posted on | November 15, 2011 | 26 Comments
At last, intelligent women are starting to speak out about how they’ve been misled about basic facts of reproductive science:
From the outside, Holly Finn certainly looks fertile.
With shoulder-length dark hair, smooth skin and a slim but curvaceous figure, the San Francisco-area writer could be any young mom with a baby on her hip.
But at 43, Finn says, her ovaries know better — and she would have, too, if not for what she believes is society’s widespread ignorance about infertility.
“I really feel that there are important pieces of information that don’t get passed along,” says Finn, who has now tried for four years to conceive through in-vitro fertilization. “I actually think it’s quite a brutal dishonesty.”
Most women aren’t taught — and don’t learn — basic facts about fertility and aging, says Finn, author of the e-book “The Baby Chase.” Instead, celeb moms the likes of Salma Hayek (a baby girl at 41), Marcia Cross (twins at 44) and Mariah Carey (twins at 41) make being an older mom look easy — and glamorous.
“It’s not that we’re stupid,” she says. “It’s that we’ve been misinformed.”
Whenever I write about this topic, I get outraged reactions from feminists who seem to think that explaining procreative biology is an insult to women. Postponing childbearing past age 30 involves a significant risk of infertility. And because the risks of birth defects (especially Down’s Syndrome) are much greater for pregnancies after age 35, delayed motherhood reduces a woman’s chances of having healthy children.
When a man says this, however, he will immediately be attacked as if he were advocating the kind of patriarchal dystopia described in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. It is therefore encouraging to see women like Finn calling attention to this kind of survey data:
Most women simply don’t realize that at 30, a healthy woman has about a 20 percent chance of conceiving per month and by the time she reaches 40, her odds drop to about 5 percent . . .
Instead, many of those surveyed thought that a 30-year-old woman would have a 70 percent chance of conceiving and that a 40-year-old’s chances could approach 60 percent.
They also believed that a 20-year-old woman might get pregnant in less than two months of unprotected sex, rather than the five months that is the average.
“It’s basic biology and basic knowledge of how age impacts your fertility if you’re a woman,” says Collura.
But most women aren’t getting those basics until it’s too late, said Dr. William Schoolcraft, medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Denver and two other locations.
“They don’t even come in for fertility treatment until they’re literally in their 40s,” he said. “Some come in and they have run out of time.”
Finn’s 50-page Kindle booklet, The Baby Chase, is available from Amazon for $1.99. I wish that all those otherwise smart young women who think, “Well, that won’t happen to me,” would wake up and realize: It just might. And I also wish people would realize that nightmare dystopias come in many flavors:
- Oct. 27: He’s 36, She’s 33
- Sept. 26: More Sex, Less Babies?
- July 24: VIDEO: ‘Demographic Winter’
- Feb. 27: K-Lo Slams Contraceptive Culture