"In a country where sex education focuses primarily on avoiding pregnancy and preventing sexually transmitted diseases, most women believe that having a baby is inevitably easy."
The High Cost of Waiting
This is because most women are waiting longer and longer to start having children. Infertility affects about 12 percent of the female population (1 in 8 couples), yet most women aren’t looking into fertility issues and treatments until they’re in a very dire situation.
We live in a country where we are still arguing and fighting over sexual education. Many schools refuse to teach what is referred to as "comprehensive" sexual education (contraception such as condoms and female birth control such as IUDs, birth control pills, Nuvaring, etc.) and instead teach abstinence. Yet even those that teach what is referred to as "comprehensive" education fail in one aspect: the discussions about the realities of conception when you're trying (rather than trying not to) conceive. We are so focused on a country in preventing teen pregnancy, that we don't often discuss the harsh realities of trying to conceive.
RESOLVE (the national infertility association) and EMD Serono Inc (a biopharmaceutical firm) teamed up to present a poll that asked 1,000 women questions about their fertility and reproductive knowledge. The study found that most women could correctly answer 7 out of 10 questions. Where did the majority of women slip up? Questions about how long it takes to conceive and how fertility changes with age.
Most women believed a 30 year old woman had a 70 percent change of conceiving in a month while a 40 year old woman had about 60 percent chance. The reality is much harsher: a 30 year old woman has about a 20 percent chance of conception each month while by the time a woman reaches 40 that has dropped off to just 5 percent. 35 seems to be the magic age in which fertility starts to drastically plummet.
We encourage women to hold off on husbands and children until later in their life, and yet often by the time women have started trying for kids it’s too late. We’re encouraged to think 40 is the new 30, and yet while that might apply to our faces, butts, and sex, it unfortunately doesn’t extend to ovaries.
The worst part of this harsh reality isn’t the thousands of women who are struggling to conceive on any given day, but the percentage of them who are unaware what they are heading for. Most women simply aren’t aware of the realities of what they’re trading for to delay childbearing. It becomes more and more important that we begin to educate women on the realities of fertility so that they’re less surprised when they do begin trying to conceive. It might even perhaps encourage some women to try and conceive a little earlier.
It raises the question of what the future of fertility and children will be as we continue to delay adulthood and marriage later and later in life and yet still desire the idea of our own biological children. For the 1 in 8 couples currently struggling to conceive, it's a question that they wish we'd asked earlier.