Independent Women, a song popularized by the group Destiny’s Child is part of the official soundtrack of the movie, Charlie’s Angels. The song best describes the women of the new millennium. Women today are doing a lot more than you can imagine. Many of them are recognized as achievers, leaders, or top professionals in their chosen fields. Women are now more focused on pursuing a career, getting another degree, and becoming financially stable. They want to get what they want on their own, just by themselves. And as they are enjoying their time because of this independence, some women are placing marriage and pregnancy at the back seat. These career women are mostly in their late 20s and early 30s, often comfortable in their status as a single person without a partner or a child of their own. But eventually, some of these career women do realize that all their material and personal success would never be enough. Some realize late in life that having a family is one of the few things that would truly make them happy. Even if some of these women do get married, the prospect of getting pregnant becomes a challenge. After spending their early years in pursuit of career success, the task of getting pregnant becomes a biological hurdle that many find as impossible to overcome.
Over the last 10 years, there was a dramatic increase in the number of women over age 35 requesting medical intervention for infertility. Approximately 20% of women in United States are having their first child after age 35. This is most likely due to a combination of older age at the time of first marriage and more significantly due to the delay of childbearing in marriage. Countless clinical trials have revealed that a woman’s fertility declines significantly when she gets older, yet aging only minimally affects male fertility.
In addition, research supports that this decline in female fertility is more likely related to the aging egg and less likely due to an aging uterus. The healthiest and most fertile eggs are ovulated when a woman is in her teens through her late 20s, a woman’s time of peak fertility. When a woman reaches her mid to late 30s, the remaining eggs have substantially less potential for fertilizing and establishing a healthy pregnancy. This is mostly due to chromosomal injuries that normally occur as eggs age within the ovaries.
The vast majority of eggs ovulated have a normal chromosomal composition on women less than 35 years of age. An increasing number of her eggs are likely to be genetically abnormal, aneuploid, as the woman progresses beyond 35 years old. This is a natural process of aging.
With even the most recent dramatic advances in infertility treatment, age related infertility remains as one of our most difficult challenges. Reproductive specialists have known for years that the pregnancy rate is inversely related to the female partner’s age. Early explanations for this trend included decreased coital frequency, diminished desire for childbearing, decreased overall time to try for a pregnancy, and diminished ovarian reserve with advancing age. As women age, even while still regularly menstruating, there are subtle shifts in hormonal patterns that may make the endometrium less receptive, which will make them difficult to get pregnant.
Women who are delaying their plans of getting pregnant should somehow learn from past generations and apply the wisdom of their parents or older friends to be responsible, to savor life, and learn from life’s hard lessons. Independent women should take charge and enjoy what they have right now. They must realize that their biological clock is ticking.