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07/26/2004

A rash argument

Binka wrote:

The argument is basically this: that many Western women who grew up during the feminist movement of the 70's, felt we were being told by our mothers and/or teachers etc. "to study hard, obtain careers and worry about babies later." Suddenly we all now find ourselves in our mid to late thirties with great careers and fertility problems that cannot be overcome by the miracles of science...

I for one thought that mid 30's was a reasonable time to start...I now know that this approach is fine if you have no problems, but if you've been masking PCOS, endo or anovulation with the Pill for the last 10 years, and/or if DH has low or zero sperm count, you could be fast tracking it all the way to ART before you know it, only to find out in your late 30's that your chances of successful IVF are seriously limited due to the age of your eggs, and that there is no alternative.

I do blame lack of information from sex educators, health lobbyists and the medical world. I know several women in their very late 30's still being told by their GPs to try for at least a year and that they are still young...


Full disclosure: articles like the one Binka refers to make me itch all over (though Binka herself speaks eloquently and non-itch-inducingly).

Perhaps it's true that women were sold a bill of goods about continuing fertility as we age. Maybe some believed that you can have it all — career first, kids later. And God knows there's enough misinformation floating around your local OB-GYN's office to choke Secretariat. But those reasons don't apply to all of us. I wonder if they even apply to most of us.

Most of the people I know didn't wait to try to have children because of their careers. If we delayed at all, it's because the men we knew at 23 were not the men who'd make good long-term partners and fathers. (Believe me when I say to you the jackass didn't make the grade.)

The majority of the women I know want children not because of a driving and indiscriminate biological desire (okay, not only because of that), but because they want to make a family with a particular partner. And he doesn't always enter, stage right, on cue.

The women I know who are older and just beginning treatment aren't generally women who waited on purpose. They're women with a bad first marriage under their belts, trying to build a family now that the real Mr. Right has appeared. Or they're women who didn't even meet Bachelor #1 until they hit their late thirties.

Should they, should we have tried for children sooner, even without the right partner? When we find ourselves at 30, just before our fertility begins its precipitous decline, should we grimly make do with Mr. Right Now or trip merrily off to the nearest sperm bank?

This is where arguments like the one Binka linked to start to raise a hideous rash on my milky white skin.

We play the hand we're dealt. It's easy to blame careerism, or feminism, or the medical establishment for giving us faulty information. But most of us, if we waited, can blame only circumstances and chance. And we now do the best we can with the situation at hand.

If you're in your mid-thirties and just now seeking treatment, why did you wait? Do you wish you hadn't, or do you feel you've done the best you could with what you had to work with?

If you're younger, do you feel you have an advantage, having started treatment early? Did arguments like the one above have any influence on when you started trying?

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