Tuesday, September 21

Science Finally Admits It Is A Myth That We Fall Off A Fertility Cliff At 35 | Women


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You may want to adjust your biological clock

Good news, ladies! We have been officially granted two more years of useful life. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the reproductive years of women in the United States increased from 35 to 37.1 years. The study looked at 60-year trends in reproductive life expectancy and found that the average menopause had increased, while the average for the first period had decreased.

This study obviously does not mean that having a child after age 35 is a piece of cake. However, I really hope it prompts us to stop treating 35 like she’s some kind of fertility cliff. If you reach that magic number, you are officially described as a person of “advanced maternal age” or a “geriatric mother.” You are given dire warnings about how difficult it will be to get pregnant and all the problems that you and your baby could face if you do. Your pregnancy is immediately labeled “high risk” and is subject to additional monitoring. Trying to get pregnant after 35 is a process that is often shrouded in stress and judgment.

The quality of your eggs decreases over time, that is very clear, but the current obsession with 35 years as a fertility threshold is outdated and not scientific. Take, for example, the often-cited statistic that one in three women ages 35-39 will not get pregnant after a year of trying. Do you want to know where that statistic comes from? Data of the France of 1700. The researchers looked at a bunch of church birth records of people whose life expectancy at the time was around 30 years, and they came up with these statistics. One imagines that the investigators would have been ridiculed in any other setting. However, since this statistic serves the very useful purpose of embarrassing and scaring women, it was repeated endlessly. By the way, more modern, and significantly more encouraging, data is at hand. A study published in 2004 which examined 770 European women found that, with sex at least twice a week, 78% of women aged 35-40 conceived within one year, compared with 84% of women aged 20-34. The Atlantic notes that these encouraging figures were left out of the opinion of the 2008 American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) committee on age and female fertility, which instead relied on “the most ominous historical data.” A few years later, the ASRM also launched a controversial advertising campaign reminding people that “women in their 20s and 30s are more likely to conceive.”

Our current obsession with 35 years of age being a fertility cliff is not only unscientific, it is futile. As an obstetrician-gynecologist recently wrote in Blackboard: “This monolithic thinking creates stress and stigma.” Because doctors use this cut-off point to guide patient care, you receive a series of sometimes unnecessary additional tests and treatments once you are over 35 years old. This often results in a “cascade of attention” that can do more harm than good.

You know who isn’t treated like a hype when they turn 35? Men. There still seems to be a widespread idea that men do not have biological clocks and can become fathers at any age. However, I am afraid that sperm do not age exactly like good wine; The quality of sperm decreases as men age. Studies have shown that babies born to older parents are more likely to have health problems, psychiatric problems, and cognitive disorders. Men may be solely responsible for 20-30% of infertility cases and contribute to 50% of cases overall according to A study. However, not many 30-year-old men stress about freezing their sperm to preserve its quality, right?

By the way, I’m not trying to suggest that we shame men for waiting “too long” to have a child. It’s time we stop embarrassing women. If organizations like ASRM want women to have children earlier in life, then the focus should be on making parenting more affordable, not on fear-provoking ad campaigns. And instead of making women to blame for infertility, we should be embarrassing the plastics industry. It has been postulated that one of the reasons infertility rates are increasing is the fact that we all consume the equivalent of a the plastic value of the credit card weekly. Fertility is complicated; it is affected by multiple things and is different for each individual. But let’s look at 35 years old, shall we?

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www.theguardian.com

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