Why Women Who Want to Have Kids Should Date Seriously In Their Early 30’s

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Longtime friend and EMK blog reader, Amy Klein, has carved out a place for herself on the internet as a fertility expert, due to her frustrations with conceiving and carrying her own child. She has written extensively for the New York Times Motherlode blog about her travails, and has recently contributed this extraordinarily important piece to Aeon Magazine.

The premise? “Women in their 30s and 40s exhibit a mix of wishful thinking and woeful ignorance when it comes to their fertility. Why?”

Great question. And Amy is far better equipped to answer it than I am. By way of personal anecdote, I remember being in Toronto, where I was auditioning for a TV show where I’d be coaching women, and meeting a 43-year-old woman who was a personal trainer. Very cute, very fit, very ignorant when it came to biology. She claimed to want to have her own children, but didn’t see the need to rush things because she was “in great shape”. I paused, incredulous, looking for a sign she was kidding.

She wasn’t.

“You know that just because you’re in great shape doesn’t mean your ovaries are, as well?”

She didn’t.

Which brings us to Amy’s article, in which she validates my experience with a study:

“A 2011 study in Fertility and Sterility surveyed 3,345 childless women in Canada between the ages of 20 and 50; despite the fact that the women initially assessed their own fertility knowledge as high, the researchers found only half of them answered six of the 16 questions correctly. 72.9  per cent of women thought that: ‘For women over 30, overall health and fitness level is a better indicator of fertility than age.’ (False.)”

If you want to have your own biological children,  you are better off taking your love life seriously in your early thirties, instead of putting off dating until your late 30’s.

Maybe I know more because I married a 39-year-old woman who suffered from two miscarriages, two chemical pregnancies, a fibroid surgery and two consultations at fertility clinics before bearing two healthy children at age 41 and 43. But we’re the anomaly – even though we didn’t go the in-vitro-fertilization route. Cites Klein:

“For a woman over 42, there’s only a 3.9  per cent chance that a live birth will result from an IVF cycle using her own, fresh eggs, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). A woman over 44 has just a 1.8  per cent chance of a live birth under the same scenario, according to the US National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Women using fresh donor eggs have about a 56.6  per cent chance of success per round for all ages.”

All is not lost, of course. I’ve written previously about this heartening study, that illustrates that a woman in her late 30’s has nearly the same chance of getting pregnant as a woman ten years younger – over the course of a calendar year:

“With sex at least twice a week, the study found, 82  per cent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceived within a year, compared with 86  per cent of 27-to-34-year-olds. ‘In our data, we’re not seeing huge drops until age 40,’   said Anne Steiner, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.”

But there is a serious drop off at age 40, one that should not be ignored. I’ve talked to lots of women who are convinced that egg-freezing is going to save their dreams, but they’ve largely been sold a bill of goods by the doctors. Yes, it’s better than nothing, but, according to Klein’s piece: “At 35, you have 20”‘30  per cent chance of your frozen eggs creating a baby in the future, using IVF. At 42, it is 3.9  per cent.”

I’m not one of those guys who thinks that you should go to college to look for your husband. Statistics suggest that these marriages are fragile due to the inexperience and immaturity of both members. However, if you want to have your own biological children, as pointed out by Lori Gottlieb in “Marry Him” and so many others, you are better off taking your love life seriously in your early thirties, instead of putting off dating until your late 30’s. Not only have a lot of good men been snatched up by then, but a good percentage of the remaining ones who want to be fathers will be aware of these statistics and pass up women their own age.

This isn’t a scare tactic. This is biology. This is reality. Let’s all pay attention instead of trying to pretend that the inconvenient truth isn’t actually true.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Stacy

    A HEALTHY two parent home is ideal. Alas, we can’t measure health simply by a home having a mom and dad living together. That is a fallacy.

  2. 22
    Jay King

    I think the reasons behind this are many, varied and very objective.
    Here are some based on my own opinion. Some want to have a child early because chances of getting pregnant on your late 30’s or early 40’s are getting slimmer and slimmer. Getting pregnant on your later years also professes a threat to your life when delivering a child. Some also want to engaged in parenthood earlier because when you have a child on your 40’s, you would still have at least 18 years before you can finally start living your life. Life begins at 40 certainly would no longer apply to you.

  3. 23
    Ildergreier

    Men is just as much to blame here since they think they have all the time in the world to get maried and have a family.  

    1. 23.1
      Johnny D

      SWING…and a miss.   

      The problem that you oddly leave undiscussed here in the USA, for certain, is that women don’t usually “date down” in regards to income and accomplishment.   Why is this an issue?   Because women are now the majority of college students/graduates and the majority of the workforce, thereby taking jobs that men once had to support their families with in times that never called for a two-income household to pay the bills.   

      That leaves a lot of men out of the labor force and in a pickle.  

  4. 24
    Angela Kaperonis Rossi

    I believe in waiting for the right guy, I never want to settle down til I’m happy with the guy. I’m a 46 year old woman I won’t let my high standards down!why should I settle for any guy. I want a successful, good looking, fit body guy, as I deserve that! Aim high I say!!!

  5. 25
    Sara

    Well, I married a man when I was 37 because I felt the pressure and wanted kids. It was not a good marriage for many a reason and now we are divorced.    However, we did have two beautiful children that I would not trade for the world.   He and I just didn’t mesh and even though we are divorced, it all worked out.   I am now taking my time in finding someone who is more suitable to me and don’t have the weight or pressure of finding just “someone” to have kids with.   He is a good dad and we are both happier and live 5 minutes from each other.

  6. 26
    Elsa

    Mid 30s???? about 10 years to late to the game of you wait that long

    1. 26.1
      Emily

      He is talking about urban, educated and career driven women.  He is not referring to the women who try to find their husbands in college ( even though there is nothing wrong with that). May be you are not the right audience

  7. 27
    Emily

    The comments to this post are very discouraging. I am 31, I am single and I have been taking my dating life seriously for the last couple of years. What else can I do except for keep going?! You can’t plan your life just by saying “ok, I will meet my future husband at 27, date for 2 years, get engaged at 29, marry at 30 and have a kid at 31-32”. Life is not that predictable and some women make mean comments about other womenfor not having found the one!!!   If you have not met with the right person, than YOU HAVE NOT MET THE RIGHT PERSON. Also, the lack of hope of some of the commentors at the age of 38 to find someone and eventually have a kid do not reflect reality. You are 38, not 48!

    1. 27.1
      ted

      There it’s no right person. There are things related to safety that are essential as well as having common interests.

      Everything else is completely a matter of doing the work. Love is the byproduct of the work you put inn on the relationship.

  8. 28
    Meg

    I will be 40 in less than 2 weeks & plan to try to conceive whenever I finally meet someone who I am actually attracted to & think would make a good father.
    I’d rather be with the right person than get pregnant with the wrong one just to have children.
    It’s not something you can force a timeline on?
    I know the statistics, but have always lived my life defying them so why stop now???

  9. 29
    Masha

    Oh wow Evan look at how interesting these comments have gotten! Thanks for the inspiring discussion!

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