I had a patient today who insisted on staying on birth control because she was terrified of getting pregnant.  She’s fifty three.  I have come to realize that many women believe, fiercely, that they are still fertile way into their 40s and 50s.  They believe that spin classes and eight servings of bottled water a day, will mean that they can wait until they are in their 40s to start thinking about children….just like Halle Berry.  On this point, I have always thought it unfair that many celebrities do not disclose the emotional and financial costs of getting pregnant when older.  Invitro fertilization, donor egg (using the egg of another or younger woman), even donor sperm, all costs money!  And, depending on the State in which you live, these interventions may not be covered.

Fact: At age 18, your chances of getting pregnant during ovulation is about 40%, by the time you are 40 that number drops to 10%.  It doesn’t matter if you have a six pack and look fabulous–fertility declines with age, period.  In addition, as American women get older we tend to develop health problems that further impact our fertility in a negative way…obesity, hypertension, addiction to nicotine, diabetes, abdominal surgery (which can scar the fallopian tubes), etc.  A blood test done at a specific time during the menstrual cycle, with/without an accompanying ultrasound (done by an infertility specialist), can assess one’s fertility.

I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, I just want to put women on alert.  If you see a family in your future, make deliberate efforts to increase your chances of having a baby.  Don’t waste time in relationships that are clearly failing, practice safe sex to guard your tubes and uterus from disease and don’t be afraid to take advantage of technology (donor sperm) if Mr. Right remains elusive.

There it is, now spread the word!

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