Sunday, April 24, 2011

You waited too long to have kids

As part of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-30), Resolve has asked bloggers to post about an infertility myth and how it has affected my life or lives of friends and family members.  Here is my post.

Myth: You waited too long to have kids.

Busted!: While it is true that fertility decreases with age, youth does not guarantee fertility. Many men and women in their 20s have infertility. And women in their early 40s can get pregnant and deliver healthy babies. However, if you know that you want to have children, the earlier you try, the less likely it is that you will have trouble.

I bought into this myth myself for a long time.  My mother has told me this on more than one occasion.  I'm sure many of my friends and acquaintances have thought this (though, fortunately, none of them has ever actually said this to me).  I have thought it myself.

I even wrote here about the fact that I felt like a fraud for claiming to be infertile when "the most likely reason for our infertility is simply that I waited until I was too old to start TTC."  Granted, I never tried to get pregnant before I was 37, so I really don't know if I would have been fertile when I was younger.  I will never know.

In retrospect, I think that perhaps REs tend to fall back too readily on "advanced" age as an explanation for infertility in any woman who is over 35. . . particularly when there is no other explanation for why she can't get pregnant.  It's true, as a general proposition, that fertility declines with age, but that does not tell us why an individual woman may be unable to get pregnant.

Really, there is just so much about fertility and conception that is not known or well understood.  Which is why many couples with infertility get the "unexplained" label.

For a long time, I blamed myself for our infertility, and I felt really, really guilty about it.  I've known since our second date that my husband wanted to be a father, and it seemed that his decision to marry me was depriving him of that opportunity.  Likewise, his choice of wife was depriving his parents of the opportunity for grandchildren (he is an only child).  I blamed myself for this.

Through counseling, I realized that our infertility is not my fault.  Even if my age were the sole cause (and we know now it is not), it still wasn't fair to blame myself.  I made the best decisions for my life with the information I had available to me at the time.  It's not my "fault" that I didn't meet my husband until I was 36.  It's not my "fault" that I chose to go back to school to start a second career at age 30.  Plenty of women wait until they are 37, or even older, to try to have children and are able to conceive naturally, without medical intervention.  (I seem to know a lot of them.)

So while it may be helpful, prospectively, to make young women aware that fertility declines with age, I don't think that blaming women who waited until over 35 to attempt pregnancy is fair or fruitful.

For more information, please visit the links below.


  1. Well put. You are not at fault for any of this. Remember that.

  2. great post. I know so many "older" pregnant women right now by the way. I, myself, was not even 32 when we first started, so while age can be a factor it is by far not the only factor. Thank you for this post. Much love and luck to you....

  3. So true S...although I am 32 we can't fault ourselves for the past. In my heart of hearts I think women in their late 30s and early 40s would of had difficulty earlier on - the added years just adds to it. Because there are just as many 40 something-ish women out there able to conceive with somewhat little difficulty on their own. My Grandma was one of them...married at 39 and pg at age 41 and 42...and this was back in 1957!

  4. If this were Facebook, I would "like" this post!

  5. I thought the exact same thing about our IF, until my mom reminded me that I never had regular periods. It's the reason I was on birth control since 18 on and off. But even if I had been more fertile then, I'm still glad I waited until a point in my life where I was ready and fully able to care for a child. Great post!

    Happy ICLW!

  6. Here from ICLW. This is a very insightful post, and after my recent pity party (yesterday) it is very comforting to hear someone else say that this is NOT my fault. I have family members who have had children at 17 and then again at 37. Seriously? If advanced maternal age is such a large factor, then how is this possible?

    I was drawn to your blog because of your mention of donor eggs in your ICLW post. I can't wait to read more and see how you came to the DE decision, if that is where you are. Looking forward to reading more!


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