You're Not as Fertile as You Think You Are, According to New Research

Sure, we all basically know that the longer we wait to try and conceive the longer it might take us to get pregnant, but new data presented at the recent American Society of Reproductive Medicine annual meeting says women need a wake-up call about the serious impact of age on our fertility.

In a survey presented at the meeting, 1,000 women aged 25 to 35 were asked 10 fertility-related questions and the results were kind of dismal. Only 8 percent correctly knew the likelihood of becoming pregnant across different age groups. And only 31 percent knew that increasing age is the single biggest risk factor for infertility. Ouch. And as we mentioned earlier, even if you're the youngest-looking 42-year-old possible, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the eggs. (Which is, of course, why Jennifer Aniston isn't as fertile as she looks.) 

"It is important for women to know that as you age, it may become increasingly difficult to conceive, and conception rates are not as high as most people believe," said Barbara Collura, Executive Director of RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, about the study results. "At 30, a healthy woman has about a 20 percent chance of conceiving, and by the time a woman reaches 40, her chances drop to about five percent per month." Okay, way to bum us out.

Despite the disheartening news, there is a silver lining. The data showed that most women (49 percent) quite logically get their infertility info from their ob/gyn, so it makes sense for these docs to have more targeted talks with patients to educate them on age-related fertility success, and effects of long-term use of oral contraceptives on fertility. Plus, the super-heartening news is that 85 to 90 percent of infertility issues can be treated with traditional therapies, and IVF still accounts for less than 5 percent of fertility services.

After reading this data, it seems so easy to simply tell women to have babies sooner, but as many of us know life and biology aren’t always on the same wavelength. I was fortunate to meet my husband in college and we felt financially stable enough to start trying to conceive our first child when I was 30. But I have tons of friends who didn’t even meet a decent guy until they were 30 or older, and understandably want to reach certain career and financial goals before throwing a life-changing infant into the mix. Overall, my feeling about this new data is that knowledge is power -- but not reason to panic. It’s critical for women to know that our birth date plays the biggest role in our fertility, but if life gets in the way of our baby-making timeline, that’s okay, too.

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