How to Increase Your Chances of Motherhood
The life of a professional woman is full of schooling, testing, and working toward a professional goal. This journey can leave the career-driven woman spending the first 30-something years of her life trying not to get pregnant, and the next decade either trying to have a baby, or not being able to think of anything else. Nationwide, the average age of women having their first child has risen every decade.
A 37-year-old first time mom is not as foreign as it was 50 years ago. Simultaneously, a woman’s ability to conceive decreases gradually starting around age 32, and begins to decline more rapidly after 37. The average 39-year-old has half of the fertility of a 31-year-old, and between 40 and 42, fertility halves again. So what does the thirty-something-year-old woman have to anticipate regarding her desire to have children before that door closes?
Here are the facts:
Prepare your body. Exercise, not smoking, and regular vitamin intake are staples that can keep your body healthy in general, and in preparation for pregnancy. You can see your doctor to find out if you carry any genetic traits such as the sickle cell trait that could affect your unborn child. You can also find out if you need any vaccine boosters to prevent infection during pregnancy. Binge drinking should stop, though a glass or two of alcohol is reasonable. Other things to avoid are intense exercise and excessive caffeine intake while trying to conceive.
Know when to seek help. If you have been trying to conceive for 1 year and you are 34 or younger, see your gynecologist so that an evaluation can be performed. If you are 35 or older, see you doctor after 6 months. Evaluation of the uterus, tubes, ovaries and sperm can lead to discoveries that can bring you closer to motherhood. Remember, not preventing is the same as trying. If you have not used any form of contraception for years and have not conceived, even if you didn’t consider yourself as “trying,” evaluation may be appropriate.
Save those eggs. If you know that realistically you will not be prepared for children until your 40s, you may consider freezing your eggs in your early or mid 30s. Thanks to the advancements of science, successful use of your own eggs later in life via in vitro fertilization can give you a significantly higher chance of getting pregnant. Even in your early to mid 40s, your 35-year-old eggs can be invaluable. If this option is too expensive or tedious, donor eggs are a viable alternative for women who have difficulty conceiving using their own. Let’s not forget to utilize adoption as well if fertility assistance is not in the plans.
Motherhood is a gift and a blessing that can come in many forms and at various stages of life. Talk to you doctor about your plans so that your career goals and your life goals can both be considered in the journey that is your life.
Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in the city of Chicago. She is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and is always accepting new patients. Learn more at www.loopobgyn.com.