Women over 40 “Shocked” by Fertility Problems

by W.F. Price on December 12, 2012

A study from the University of California San Francisco found that 44% of women over 40 who needed IVF to conceive were surprised by their difficulties. Most women apparently had unrealistic expectations. Even more surprising to them was the fact that success with IVF also decreases sharply with age.

In the study, the researchers at the University of California, San Francisco interviewed women from 61 families — including heterosexual couples, lesbian couples and single women — who conceived and delivered children via IVF after age 40. The interviews were done between 2009 and 2011.

“We found that women did not have a clear understanding of the age at which fertility begins to decline,” the researchers wrote in their study, published online Nov. 30 in the journal Human Reproduction.

Most women thought their fertility would last longer than it did. For instance, 31 percent said they expected to get pregnant without difficulty at age 40.

“Very few participants had considered the possibility that they would need IVF, and 44 percent reported being ‘shocked’ and ‘alarmed’ to discover that their understandings of the rapidity of age-related reproductive decline were inaccurate,” the researchers wrote.

Women’s unrealistic expectations concerning family formation are a direct result of the message that they can live as they please and do what they want without having to make concessions. Society has worked very hard to construct this artificial reality for women, often at the expense of men, but we have less control over biology than we do over our economic and education systems.

If there is any real crisis among women, the inability of many of them to have families of their own is it. It is an enormous loss in life. At the end, what good were all those jobs and meaningless flings when you have nothing to show for them?

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