There has been a great deal in the press recently campaigning for women to have babies before the age of 30 and for the facts about fertility to be taught in school. Like so many issues, the real message has been distorted by sensational press reporting. “Women Warned to Have Babies by 30” the headlines cry. Not so helpful for the many 30 somethings who are not yet mothers and not yet in a position to become a mother.
I am not denying that we need to inform women of the facts regarding their fertility. The problem is the facts may not change the outcome and many women remain childless in their 30s for a myriad of reasons, not simply a lack of information. For sure when I was growing up the only cautionary tale about fertility was the teenage mother, a fate to be avoided at all costs. Periods were described as ‘the curse’ and there was absolutely no discussion about understanding your cycle or engaging in it in anyway other than to hide it and hope you weren’t pregnant. The original message behind the press reports is sound; fertility does decline with age and the older we get the harder it is to have a baby. But of course not every woman is in a position to have a baby at 30 and scaremongering only serves to add more anxiety to an already fraught situation. Anxiety is the enemy of fertility and every headline spreads fear and terror into the heart and womb of many a single 30 something. The other problem with sensationalist headlines is that they only tell such a small part of the story. One of the stories that frequently get overlooked is that young women suffer from infertility as well. Below are some fertility facts you may not know.
- The largest cause of infertility is ovulation problems. Without ovulation no egg released and there is nothing for the sperm to fertilise. PCOS Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the most common cause of infertility.
- In Chinese medicine the age of your mother and her general health, at the time of your conception impacts on your fertility.
- Sperm problems account for 35-50% of all fertility problems (a fact rarely reported). Male fertility is on the decline: semen analysis show that more men present with a high number of abnormal forms than in previous generations. Female fertility is not measurably declining, we are just leaving it later.
- Smoking is responsible for 13% of infertility cases.
- BPA found in soft plastics and food packaging is an endocrine disrupter shown to decrease both sperm quality and sexual function as well as potentially impacting egg quality in women. Reduce your exposure to soft plastics as much as possible for 3 months prior to trying to conceive and switch to more natural cleaning products in your home.
Not everyone will be able to have children before their 30s but everyone can take steps to protect their fertility. Pass this message on to a younger woman in your life.