Many women today are postponing having children until later in life. They are either ignoring the ticking of their “Biological Clocks,” or they are counting on medical technology to “solve” the issue and associated problems for them.
According to doctors and researchers, there isn’t one “right” time to start a family. No matter what age you have a child, there are advantages and disadvantages.
- In your early 20’s, you have:
- More energy to care for a child
- Less chances for gestational complications
- Less financial resources
- Less life experiences to draw from
- In your late 30’s or 40’s you have:
- Greater financial stability
- Higher chances of problems getting pregnant
- More incidents of developmental problems
- Less physical energy to give a busy toddler
Here are some reasons people might choose to delay having children:
- The desire to complete college educations
- The desire to get established in their professions
- The desire to buy their first house
- Fears about the ongoing economic weakness
- Reduced job prospects
- The fear of “bringing a child into our troubled world”
- Uncertainty that they can be a “good” parent
Just as there are problems with having a child too soon in life, there are also problems with waiting until later in life to have children.
Consider these examples:
The average woman between 20 and 24 years old has about a 20 percent chance each month of getting pregnant when she has unprotected intercourse, the highest it will ever be. The miscarriage rate during these years is about 9.5 percent, the lowest it will ever be.
Benjamin Younger, M.D., executive director of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, in Birmingham, AL says that fertility continues to decline after age 35, and it takes a nosedive at age 38. “The decline is due mostly to the fact that the woman’s eggs are aging, and they become more difficult to fertilize,” he adds.
The percentage of women between the ages of 45—49 who have babies is .03, and the chance of successful infertility treatment drops tremendously.
Here’s a list of things that are progressively more possible the older a woman is at pregnancy:
- Greater challenges actually getting pregnant
- Higher chances of losing the unborn baby
- Higher chances of premature birth
- Higher chances of genetic/developmental problems
- Higher blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
Reproductive health technologies are an attempt to overcome the problems with getting pregnant and delivering a living, healthy baby. Some of these methods are only minimally intrusive on your lifestyle and finances. Others can seem to overwhelm your daily, emotional and relational life. In ALL of them, ethical considerations revolving around the sanctity of God-given life is a needed consideration.
Things to consider when trusting in medical technology to extend the “biological clock”:
- $$ Costs
- Ethical Problems
- Failure rates
- Emotional strain
According to Fertility Solutions, located in New England, here is a partial list of medical technology options when getting or staying pregnant is a problem:
- Treatment of Underlying Endocrine Disorders, including PCOS- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Ovulation Induction: Clomid, Letrozole and FSH
- IUI – Intrauterine Insemination (Artificial Insemination) with partner’s or Donor sperm
- IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
- ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, with ejaculated or surgically extracted sperm (TESE/MESA)
- Assisted Hatching
- Embryo biopsy for genetic screening
- PGD – Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
- FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer
- Cryopreservation (Vitrification) of Eggs, Embryos and Sperm (including the freezing of surgically extracted sperm)
- Egg Donation – Utilizing known and anonymous donors in fresh IVF cycles
- Frozen Donor Egg cycles- through Farifax Egg Bank
- Gestational Surrogacy
- Fertility Preservation
- Tubal Reversal
- Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery
Endometriosis, Adhesions, Fibroids, Tubal Obstruction
- Advanced Hysteroscopic Surgery
Polyps, Fibroids, Adhesions, Septum
As an example, one of the newest ideas in the battle against the fertility “ticking clock” is called “egg freezing.”
Here’s how Eggbanxx defines it:
“Egg Freezing is a process in which a woman’s eggs (oocytes) are prepared, extracted, frozen and stored for future use. By preserving her eggs, a woman provides herself with options if she finds herself struggling to conceive at the time when she’s ready.”
Eggbanxx has a very active marketing strategy, including, happy hour events, and appealing to corporate employers to either offer or subsidize the “protection of future childbearing abilities of your employees.”
But experts do not view this as a procedure that should be encouraged.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not endorse egg freezing for the “sole purpose of circumventing reproductive aging in healthy women.”
- In 2013, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a membership organization representing roughly 500 fertility clinics in the U.S., lifted the “experimental” label from the procedure, but stressed that its decision was not an endorsement for healthy women to freeze their eggs for future use.
- After reviewing 981 fairly small studies, of which only 112 addressed safety and efficacy concerns, ASRM’s practice committee wrote:
- “While a careful review of the literature indicates egg freezing is a valid technique for young women for whom it is medically indicated, we cannot at this time endorse its widespread elective use to delay childbearing.”
- Citing the critical lack of medical evidence and potential emotional risks the committee cautioned:
- “Marketing this technology for the purpose of deferring childbearing may give women false hope.”
As you can see, the list of things to consider when postponing having children is a long one indeed. My advice is to carefully think and talk through these things with your mate.
Sure lots of people just ignore or stumble through this. And, it often seems “unfair” that other couples have either little of no troubles in this area. (You might be surprised if you could “see” inside their private lives.)
Regardless, in the area of deciding when to have children, “failing to plan” is the same as “planning to fail.”
- Do what you can to give your future children the best chance at having a good, productive life.
- Accept that uncertainty and problems are a part of life for everyone.
- Don’t let fear, greed or social pressures prevent you from having a great family!
- Be an active part of a larger church family, and get advice from others who are a little further down life’s road than you are.
- But when it comes down to it, decide what is best for your own family.
- Then do your best to manage and live with the results of your decisions.
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