Information is power: Getting informed about my fertility

My name is Allie and I’m a 34 year old advertising executive. I’ve spent the last several years concentrating on my education and building my career. Although the ad world can be gruelling, with 70 to 80 hour work weeks being the norm, I absolutely love my work. Despite the demands of my job, I do my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle by trying to eat right and by exercising at least 3 times a week.

In the past I never much thought about having kids so my fertility was never really a concern for me. I just assumed that if I meet the right guy one day and he is into being a dad, I’d probably consider having one child, or at most two kids. I knew getting pregnant can be more difficult for women in their 40s – which is probably how old I’ll be by the time I find “Mr. Right” and we’re ready to have kids. But I figured if we had problems getting pregnant, we’d just do IVF. And with all the movie stars having kids in their 40s, it seemed obvious that if I stayed fit and healthy there would be no reason why I couldn’t get pregnant when I was ready.

Needless to say, I was pretty shocked to find out that this isn’t necessarily the case. It started with my yearly appointment for my physical exam. My regular GP was away on maternity leave, so she had another young, female doctor recently out of medical school filling in for her. When this new doc was doing my exam, she asked if I planned on having children. I answered, “probably in the future if I meet the right guy, but not right now”. She asked me if I was aware that fertility declined with age. I said I know that it can be more difficult for women to get pregnant in their 40s but there is always IVF. She then told me that women’s fertility starts to decline in our late 20s and early 30s and takes a real nosedive after age 35. She also gave me some stats on the low success rates of IVF for women in their 40s, and said that many of the movie stars we see having kids in that age group are actually using the eggs of a younger woman! That really blew me away!!

She suggested that we go ahead and have my fertility tested now – to get a sense of my current “ovarian reserve”.  Depending on the outcome of those tests, she said I might want to consider fertility preservation – freezing some of my eggs now – so that I have a better chance of getting pregnant when, and if, I’m ready in the future.

She wasn’t trying to scare me, or to force me into having kids when I wasn’t ready. She wanted me to know the facts so that I could make informed choices and have as many options available as possible. That really fit with me, given that’s what I try to do in all areas of my life – research, ponder my options, and then make an informed decision. She told me about this site, and suggested that I spend some time surfing the site and considering my options.

My head was spinning after the appointment, but I’m glad that she raised these issues with me. It makes me wonder how many other people out there are making fertility decisions without the necessary information? I think more doctors should have these conversations with their female and male patients. I’m not sure what the results of my fertility tests are going to be, but whatever the outcome, I’d rather have the information I need now to make my decisions, than having the decision made for me later because I just didn’t have the facts.

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