In the lead up to World Fertility Day on November 2nd, we are reaching out to you, and asking you to share your fertility hindsight
We want to know what you would say to your younger selves, and what changes you would have made had you been more educated about your fertility.
We start this amazing campaign, by sharing the thoughts of Ellen, a 43 year old woman who has reached out to us after reading the guidance from Professor Adam Balen, who told NewsTalk Breakfast that more and more people are attending fertility clinics in their late 30s and early 40s not realising they may have left it too late to have children.
Responding to Professor Balen’s comment that “women planning to have one child need to start trying in their early 30s and those wishing for more than that need to start in their mid-20s”, Ellen responded:
“I hate that women are under such pressure to achieve everything so quickly! How are we meant to carve out great careers, travel the world, have ‘fun’ relationships and then all of a sudden find a husband in our twenties and have children?! It is impossible!!”
Ellen said “It is so obvious now with hindsight, but at the time, in my late twenties and early thirties, I was flying high with work. I was travelling loads, meeting lots of people, and was not ready to settle down. Although I would hate to never have had had those experiences, I know becoming a mother would far outweigh the experiences I had in my ‘prime’ years. But here I am. I have left it too late to have children using my own eggs. I am upset and frustrated”.
When we asked Ellen what she would say to her younger self, she replied:
“I would have told my younger self to not put off travel, or the pursuit of a career, but, and this is an important but, I would stress that if you want to become a mother, perhaps freeze your eggs, or think about a career that you love but can be managed at the same time as starting a family early. Be more fertility aware!!”
Fortunately fertility awareness is improving and is now reaching people at just the right time . Professor Balen said that including a fertility message on the packaging of contraception pills was ’empowering women with full information’ about their fertility.
He said: “I think it is very important young people are fully informed about all aspects so family planning is not just about avoiding an unwanted pregnancy but ensuring young people can plan for the families they want at a time they want it.
“Because we are seeing a rising prevalence of infertility and we have seen that of young women born today, about 20 percent have not had a child compared with ten percent of their mother’s generation.”
He also called for more information to be available to young men
“We are very aware that young men have very little knowledge actually about fertility,” he said. “We are not only talking about age, it is talking about smoking, abuse of recreational drugs, and anabolic steroids in gyms for boys. All these things have a negative effect on fertility.”
He called for a better information campaign to help young people understand their fertility and biological clock.
He said: “The notion is to find other times in young people’s lives to reintroduce these thoughts about when you should be thinking about starting a family and awareness about all the many factors that may have had an adverse effect on their fertility.”
Ellen ended by saying
“I am now planning fertility treatment using donor eggs. It is not what I wanted, but it is my path to motherhood. I just hope that women in their twenties learn more about their fertility than I did, so that they have multiple options open to them, sooner rather than later”
When were you told about the age your fertility starts to decline? We’d love to hear your comments. Head over to our social media pages to have your say, @IVFbabble on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.