January 16, 2011

Article: Heartache of late motherhood

I was searching for something this morning when I ran across this article, published by a British online news site. In Heartache of Late Motherhood, the author points out how many women are being "lulled into infertility" by a society that tells us we can have it all by postponing pregnancy into our 30s and beyond.

Apparently, birth trends across the pond are not so different from the U.S.

The author quotes a London doctor as saying "It is ironic that as society becomes more risk-averse and pregnant women more anxious than in the past, a major preventable cause of this ill health and unhappiness is unacknowledged.

"Public health agencies target teenagers, but ignore the epidemic of pregnancy in middle age.

"The reasons for these difficulties lie not with women, but with a distorted and uninformed view from society, employers and health planners.

This certainly rings true to me. I mean, when was the last time YOU saw a parenthood advocacy organization telling you that you shouldn't put off pregnancy too long because your body might just be on a different path? Hmm? And yet the statistics of infertility once we reach our mid thirties is staggering: Fertility rates start to plummet from 90% to around 67% by age 40 (Resolve). Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S. That's 1 in 8 couples. (2002 National Survey of Family Growth) Yet somehow all the emphasis is on either preventing pregnancy or abortion advocacy. My insurance company will cover birth control pills but not IVF.

Do you see the imbalance yet? What happens when our society starts to experience negative population growth and depends on other means to achieve what we so desperately want to happen naturally? Of course, this question is more appropriate to women putting off pregnancy - it says nothing about the added anguish of couples of any age who find themselves unable to conceive naturally for any of a number of reasons. Infertility needs to be recognized for what it is: a disease.

This is why awareness and advocacy are so important: Infertility is ridiculously common yet almost invisible to society. It's the most exclusive club we will never want to be a part of.