I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. The reason is I celebrated my 37th birthday in January and although I’m in a committed relationship with a man I adore, we’re not married. And the truth is, if I were to get pregnant now I couldn’t support myself and a child financially. So given my current circumstances, I have to wait.
And even in the best of times, waiting sucks. Waiting is hard work. Because while we’re waiting, we’re usually worrying. I’ve probably spent over 20 years secretly worrying that I would end up being alone – unmarried and childless. So while I’m really grateful to be with a man that feels like the best match I’ve ever had, the truth is I’m scared. What if this relationship doesn’t work out? What if I’m 38 and single? Then what? These are the big questions that hang over my head every day.
And the biggest question of them all is: What if I wait too long and miss my chance of having a baby naturally?
I’ll tell you what gives me faith:
- I know how to read the signs of fertility in my body. I know when I ovulate. And based on my mucus patterns and my menstrual flow, I know my cycle is healthy. I learned this from my friend Amy Sedgewick of Red Tent Sisters who helps women use fertility awareness for both contraception and to conceive without medical intervention.
- I have access to the most powerful and ancient method for healing reproductive health. Life may not have given me a husband or a baby yet, but what I have been gifted with is a yoga and meditation practice that creates reproductive health miracles for women, including myself. For me it was healing PMS madness and debilitating menstrual cramps. For many of my students they’ve used the Moon Goddess practice to conceive. Like Karima, who healed her cysts so she could conceive. Or Susan who used the practice to put her faith back in the universe, and let the miracle of pregnancy happen. Or Yuko who after 3 years of ‘trying’ got her cycle back on track and conceived naturally.
- The real statistics for women in their 30’s. Shawn Gallagher who is a respected Childbirth Hypnotist and Non-practicing Midwife and a friend, recently posted an article on facebook entitled, “How long can you wait to have a baby?”. The author, Jean Twenge is a Psychology Researcher who was asking herself that same question when she found herself divorced at age 30. After looking at the sources behind the ominous statistics she realized the decline in fertility over the course of a woman’s 30s has been oversold.
Fertility declines ONLY 4% for women in their 30’s vs. 20’s
Here’s what the numbers really say from the well-researched author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant, Jean Twenge. (extracted from her article in www.theatlantic.com):
“The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, is based on an article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830. The chance of remaining childless—30 percent—was also calculated based on historical populations.”
“In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment. Most people assume these numbers are based on large, well-conducted studies of modern women, but they are not. When I mention this to friends and associates, by far the most common reaction is: “No … No way. Really?”
“Surprisingly few well-designed studies of female age and natural fertility include women born in the 20th century—but those that do tend to paint a more optimistic picture. One study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2004 and headed by David Dunson (now of Duke University), examined the chances of pregnancy among 770 European women. It found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27-to-34-year-olds. (The fertility of women in their late 20s and early 30s was almost identical—news in and of itself.)”
“Another study, released this March in Fertility and Sterility and led by Kenneth Rothman of Boston University, followed 2,820 Danish women as they tried to get pregnant. Among women having sex during their fertile times, 78 percent of 35-to-40-year-olds got pregnant within a year, compared with 84 percent of 20-to-34-year-olds.”
“A study headed by Anne Steiner, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the results of which were presented in June, found that among 38- and 39-year-olds who had been pregnant before, 80 percent of white women of normal weight got pregnant naturally within six months (although that percentage was lower among other races and among the overweight). “In our data, we’re not seeing huge drops until age 40,” she told me.”
“Even some studies based on historical birth records are more optimistic than what the press normally reports: One found that, in the days before birth control, 89 percent of 38-year-old women were still fertile. Another concluded that the typical woman was able to get pregnant until somewhere between ages 40 and 45. Yet these more encouraging numbers are rarely mentioned—none of these figures appear in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s 2008 committee opinion on female age and fertility, which instead relies on the most-ominous historical data.”
“In short, the “baby panic”—is based largely on questionable data. We’ve rearranged our lives, worried endlessly, and forgone countless career opportunities based on a few statistics about women who resided in thatched-roof huts and never saw a lightbulb. In Dunson’s study of modern women, the difference in pregnancy rates at age 28 versus 37 is only about 4 percentage points. Fertility does decrease with age, but the decline is not steep enough to keep the vast majority of women in their late 30s from having a child.”
If you’re a woman in your mid-late 30’s inhale deeply And breath a sigh of relief. It’s not too late for you. This is really good news!
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