Nobody said Infertility Awareness Week was going to be fun. Clearly, for a number of women who read my Q&A with fertility expert Dr. Yaakov Bentov this week the very idea that infertility could be a serious concern after the age of 35 was troubling. I’ve got news for these women: it troubled me too.
Shortly after the Q&A went up I received an email from a friend. “I’m freaking out,” she wrote. “So am I,” I replied. A beat after that, I received a note from another friend who was both grateful for a frank interview on the subject and simultaneously freaking out.
I understand why women found the Q&A scary because I found it scary too. I’m 34. I’m single (never miss an episode of…basically anything that’s on TV!). The last date I remember fell out of a cereal box. And I’m getting older—every freaking year! Making matters worse things aren’t exactly rosy in the romance or reproductive department over here. I’m considering taking up prank phone calls as a way to meet future sperm donors, formerly known as “men.” The interview with Dr. Bentov only underlined these circumstances—I’ve got a scab from all that underlining.
I’m glad I spoke to Dr. Bentov though because it made me think about things I’ve thus far only brooded about. It made me realize that I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about the fact that my reproductive capabilities have a lifespan. That’s the hardest truth to swallow.
Think you’re bummed now. Wait for Mortality Awareness Week!
When contacted at the safe house where he’s been hiding out since the Q&A went up, Dr. Bentov had this to say: “I didn’t mean to discourage anyone…only to promote action before it is too late.”
He added: “Many women give birth to healthy children after the age of 35, however the chances for a successful outcome decrease with age. There are many tests that are currently available to try and promote this goal, but relying upon them and as a structured plan for delayed parenthood is not reasonable choice.”
And neither is relying on anecdotal evidence. I know a woman who got pregnant at 40. But I also have friends in their 30s who are struggling to conceive. Where does that leave me? Filtering out fact from anecdote is where an expert comes in.
At no point did Dr. Bentov suggest that a woman can’t get pregnant after age 35. He only emphasized that fertility decreases in women from the ages of 30 to 40. More importantly, he offered good options for combating this inevitability. If you’re in your mid-30s and can’t have a baby now, but want to in the future, he suggests freezing your eggs. He says take co-enzyme Q10. Lastly, he advises women to try and get pregnant sooner rather than later.
Nobody said Infertility Awareness Week was going to be fun. For me, it was truly enlightening, clarifying and terrifying. But then so is having a baby and so in that sense it seems only fitting.