Trawling through articles recently I (Tracey) came across one by Zita West about one of the most common questions she gets asked.
‘How long I have got before it will be too late for me to ever have a child of my own.’
As Zita West says, “Different couples have different challenges when it comes to thinking about planning to have a baby, and questions like this one are difficult to answer, as fertility isn’t black and white: there are so many shades of grey”
This hit a cord with me as my fertility journey was definitely not black and white . . . and was not the ‘norm’
I had been in a ‘long term’ relationship in my late teens and 20s and then one day my partner so massively sadly died in a car crash. My world was turned upside down. The thought of having a family went away for many years and didn’t really raise its head until I met my now gorgeous husband at 39 years of age!
For some, that may already be too late, for others, there is still more time . . .
I remember a friend of mine, who was 38 years old at the time, telling me that she thought she was pregnant as she hadn’t had a period for two months! She had met a gorgeous guy a year or so before and she was about to move in with him. She visited her doctor with so much excitement and just a little apprehension . . .
After one pregnancy test, strangely it was negative. She was sure it would be positive as she had never missed a period! Her GP then sent her for more blood tests and a scan. The outcome? She was perimenopausal . . . and apparently very close to being menopausal.
This wasn’t what she was expecting to hear . . . surely she was still young enough, she couldn’t comprehend it, she was in a terrible state for such a long time after this diagnosis. When she eventually found the strength to talk to her Mum about it, she found out her Mum had also gone through the menopause in her late 30s.
This wasn’t the first story like this that I came across at that time and since either!
That prompted me to talk to my Mum
I had never ever thought of even bringing the subject up before! Why would I? I had thought we all just get pregnant when we want to . . . I had never thought we would have issues and that there was a looming time limit!!!
In my case, my Mum’s story was very different. Her mother had given birth to her at 42 years of age (and her first child at 32 years!) . . . Mum wasn’t the last one either! She also told me that she went through the menopause in her late 50s! She had given birth to me in her 40s.
Again, call me naïve, but I didn’t realize the great variance of when people would go through menopause and that there can be decades apart!
This experience has led me – especially since I have been so very blessed to have twins as an older mum – and very lucky with that too! I so want to ensure that everyone – from teenagers upwards – understand to not take their ‘fertility’ forgranted.
It doesn’t mean, by the way, that if your Mum has suffered premature ovarian failure that you will . . . but there is a chance and the great thing in current times is that you can check!
So how can you check?
You can have blood tests such as FSH and AMH to check on your egg reserve and quality which will give doctors an idea of a timeline for you. Click here to listen to leading fertility consultant, Raef Faris, from the renowned Lister Fertility Clinic explain more about pre treatment checking.
You can also freeze your eggs!
Of course the earlier you freeze your eggs, the better! Some like Diane Hayden (ex Miss World) who has recently got pregnant with her own eggs, and publically shared that she froze these at 41 years. This is along with many others like myself making the decision to freeze their eggs later in life . . . but it is a little like Russian roulette as to whether they are going to take . . . but at least there is a chance albeit a small one.
But to give yourself more of a chance – and freedom of choice on making a decision on motherhood – it really is advisable to freeze your eggs earlier – 20s/30s will give you more of a chance.
So coming back to Zita West’s article
‘In helping women with their fertility, I spend a lot of time trying to make them aware of the possible delays in the process and the consequences of delay, and how they need to be strategic in their decisions.’ . . .
I can’t vouch for this enough, for all the reasons I have listed above.
Zita West also goes on to say
Planning as much of your fertility journey as you can is something I recommend highly. And as we end the year, I want to talk about the importance of having no regrets.
One of the most painful set of circumstances I see at the clinic is when women sit in front of me thinking of what they should have done differently.
Normally – and I say this from having helped thousands of couples – they wish they had started trying sooner or had sought help sooner. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard couples say that to me.
In helping women with their fertility, I spend a lot of time trying make them aware of the possible delays in the process and the consequences of delay, and how they need to be strategic in their decisions.
The reason? To ensure that they don’t feel this regret.
I can’t agree more!
There will always be a potential other option for you to have children such as donor, surrogacy, adoption, fostering . . . but why not give yourself an informed choice . . . don’t feel a regret . . . it’s so important to take charge of your future and future family decision making.
Read more Tracey’s journey to parenthood