Fertility: 5 Things You NEED To Know

vertttttIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
Tanya Selvaratnam's new book, The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock, is both highly illuminating and deeply personal. She explores delayed motherhood and the reality of a woman's limited fertility window while detailing her own struggles with repeated miscarriages.
Advertisement
The questions young women face aren't easy. How do we deal with our declining fertility and staying competitive with our male colleagues during our 20s and 30s? Selvaratnam takes a meted, reasonable approach to the material; she's not encouraging anyone to run out and get pregnant before they're fully ready. But, what she does emphasize is how quiet the conversation remains on women's fertility. We need to be talking about this stuff — even if the idea of having kids seems far, far away. We need to take control of our health destinies, understand the reality of IVF, and acknowledge the unbending biological clock. Ahead, five ways you can take control of your fertility, right now.
5_Things_about_Fertility_1_resizeIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
"Talk to your doctor and check out websites for the Centers for Disease Control, Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood, and RESOLVE, to name a few. The number of eggs at our first menstrual cycle is around 300,000 to 400,000. By age 30, we’re down to between 39,000 and 52,000 (13% of the eggs we had at puberty). By age 40, we’re down to between 9,000 and 12,000 (3% of the eggs we had at puberty) — and not all of those eggs are viable. At the age of 15, a woman has a 40% to 50% chance of conceiving per cycle, but after age 35, she has a 15% to 20% chance. At 45? She has a 3% to 5% chance."
5_Things_about_Fertility_2_resizeIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
"We need to be asking ourselves, 'Do you want to be a mother? Do you want to have a career? What does an ideal balance look like for you, and what steps do you need to take to achieve it?' I think it's very important for the discourse around these issues to be normalized so that people have more open conversations. Because often, the conversations feel too confrontational. Like with mothers and teachers telling young women, 'It's time for you to have a child; don't delay,' — it feels too imposing.
Advertisement
I think if people really opened up the conversations to be more frank and understanding where they really talk to each other about their goals — and I think that progress can be made. In my case, I wish that someone had said, 'You might not want a kid in your 20s, but there might be a time later on when you do, so think about how to prepare yourself for that.' For instance, now, young women have so many more tools at their disposal. There is so much more information out there they can seek. They just don't know where to start.
No one is telling you to go to this site and look at these fertility charts. And, they're not telling you that you might want to think about freezing your eggs while they're in their optimal quality. By the time you get to your 30s, that quality starts to decline, so maybe you want to freeze them in your 20s so you have more options later on. Egg freezing isn't a guarantee. It might not work out because you'll be relying on reproductive science because you won't be doing it naturally. But, it is an added sense of security to have pursued fertility preservation when you're at your peak."
5_Things_about_Fertility_3_resizeIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
"Consider a fertility workup to get a better idea of your personal biological timeline and any underlying issues. Speak to your doctor about what this might entail and ask in advance what it will cost you. For example, you can have your AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) levels tested, which can help predict your ovarian reserve, through blood work.
It's really the AMH levels and FSH levels that you want to test — AMH being the anti-müllerian hormone and FSH being the follicle stimulating hormone — both of which are indicators of your ovarian reserve (basically your egg reserve and egg quality). The good news is the blood-work tests aren't very expensive. You'll be out a couple of hundred dollars."
Advertisement
5_Things_about_Fertility_4_resizeIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
"If you'd like to have children with a partner, be open to a partner who will be a good parent. Before making serious commitments to a partner, think and talk about your respective reproductive goals and parenting approaches.
It's important for people to have open conversations with their partner because both members of a couple should not feel like they're alone in their pursuit [of having children]. And, they shouldn't feel like their partner is just going along with their pursuit; it should be a mutual decision. I think you can learn a lot about who you're with by having these conversations. I think too often couples suffer when they struggle to have a child because they haven't thought proactively about the impact that pursuit might have on their relationship. They're kind of winging it, saying it'll either work out or it won't.
But, it takes a big psychological toll when it doesn't work out. So, I've seen so many relationships, including mine, that fell apart during that pursuit of parenthood, and I often wonder, "Are there ways we could have prevented those minefields by talking in advance about what we really wanted and what we were willing to go through, instead of dealing with it in the moment?" There are some times when it's very good to wing it and be in the moment, but then there are other times — when the psychological toll is great — that it's better to be prepared in advance."
5_Things_about_Fertility_5_resizeIllustrated By Ly Ngo.
Advertisement
"Make sure you have good health insurance, and be aware of the policies surrounding fertility and reproduction where you live and work. Insurance is such a quagmire, and it really varies state-to-state and policy-to-policy. But typically, unless you've been diagnosed with infertility (which was the case in my situation), [fertility] tests are often considered elective.
IVF costs $10,000 to $20,000 per cycle, and when you consider that it takes multiple cycles, [it can be several times that amount]. If you live in one of the 15 states that mandates infertility coverage, it's likely that your IVF treatments will be covered. But, there are limitations on the amount of IVF cycles you can do and the amount of time in which you can do them. Like, you can only do a certain amount of cycles within a certain time period. It's not easy to figure out. And, it's not only the financial cost, but the emotional cost. It's a very arduous process, and people don't realize until they go through it. You're pumping yourself with hormones and subjecting yourself to all kinds of tests and you begin to feel like you're a lab experiment. And, it's a lot of pressure on couples, too."
Advertisement

More from Body

Update: Kopp's original Facebook post has been removed, and, as Shape reports, the chances of contracting an infection so severe that draining is ...
Breast-feeding has numerous benefits for both mother and baby, but it doesn't always come as naturally as we might assume. And, as one viral photo shows, ...
Last week, Kelly Stanley was breast-feeding her 9-month-old baby during dinner when someone else at her table decided to grab a cloth napkin and try to ...
Pregnant women get a lot of advice about motherhood, even when they don't ask for it. And in the first episode of Expecting, from Refinery29's comedy ...
Periods may be annoying, but at least they're predictable — sort of. If yours is a little delayed this cycle, and you're not trying to get pregnant right ...
It sustains life. It boosts immunity. It may or may not taste like the milk left over from a bowl of Lucky Charms. (Full disclosure: I sampled mine just ...
Gina Rodriguez is the master of keeping it real. She's been open about everything from losing her virginity to coping with thyroid disease, so it makes ...
(Paid Content) Stress sweat is different from regular sweat in that it feeds off bacteria and causes odor. Then you start to think about it — producing ...
When you see your friend's adorable baby, your first instinct, understandably, is probably to hug and kiss her all over. However, you might want to think ...
Two years ago, Ericka Hart was about to walk into a Sephora in Lower Manhattan when she looked down at her ringing phone, and stopped right there on Wall...
Eve Torres Gracie, former WWE wrestler and current very dangerous person, posted a moving Instagram photo of her post-baby body today. Inspired by the ...
In an interview for People's Mom Talk video series, model and actress Molly Sims opened up about suffering through a thyroid problem that went ...
When I think about the aspect of sex that has made me most anxious over the course of my seven years of sexual activity so far, it’s not the risk of ...
If you've never experienced color-blindness yourself, it's pretty hard to imagine what it might be like. Turns out, it's much more complicated than just ...