Myths of Fertility With Age
Green with Penis Envy
There are a few (see: exactly 2) times in my life where I experienced penis envy (Definition: feeling envious of not having a penis vis a vis some Freud stuff). These times are as follows:
- Peeing on the side of the road: Penis’s provide the freedom to urinate in a swift and subtle manner in any (legal) locale. I have weak knees, which makes squatting painful and weird, plus I would like to stand and take in the view while peeing on the edge of a highway boulevard.
- When thinking about The Biological Clock.
The Biological Clock
The biological clock isn’t something you hang on your wall or wear on your wrist, but a colloquial term for the deafening ticking away of peak childrearing years. Please don’t come at me for bad anatomy, but since I’m a professional I guess we can classify this technically as semen envy. See below for sub-bullets on my semen related jealousies.
- Sub-bullet number one: People who can produce sperm produce millions of sperm A DAY. People with uteruses and vaginas are born with a set number of eggs in their ovaries that they slowly shed during their reproductive years.
- Sub-bullet number two: Researchers found that peak age for semen quantity is from 30-35 years, and doesn’t decrease until around age 55. That’s a lot of years to make millions and millions of sperm. The peak years for egg quantity and quality are from a person’s late teens to late twenties.
Have I stressed you out?
Yeah - I’ve stressed myself out too.
As a person with a vagina in her mid twenties, I know I’m sitting on some goldmine eggs. But besides that, I am wholly unequipped to reproduce at this time - despite my body’s bloody monthly reminder that another high quality egg has just been flushed down the toilet.
Am I just going to close up shop in the next five years? Will my egg count deplete at the same time as my student loan debt? By the time I’ve swiped my way to an eligible suitor will my uterus have swiped away all my highest quality eggs?
No, don’t worry, I’m just playing up the dramatics. It’s not as dire as you think!
Yes, the ability and ease to get pregnant declines throughout your 30’s and into your 40’s. Additionally, as you age the eggs in your ovaries also age, and there is a slightly greater chance for there to be some problems on the chromosome.
BUT, 85% of people conceive within one year of trying when the person who is trying to become pregnant is under 40. Around 18% of births were from people with vagina age 35-40 in the United Kingdom in 2015-2016 - yes, we’re looking at you Dutchess Meghan Markle. The likelihood of becoming pregnant naturally without medical assistance after one year of trying is greater than 85% for people under the age of 30, and about 44% for people 40 years old. While this is a significant decline, there is still a high possibility of conceiving.
Some important things to know if you’re a little bit older and trying to conceive, or planning to conceive later in life (because you might be busy, oh I don’t know, cementing your career, perfecting a craft or simply enjoying how perky your breasts look in crop tops):
- Look into possibilities to freeze your eggs. Eggs are taken from your ovaries and frozen for later use.
- Look into in vitro fertilization. Eggs are taken from your ovaries and conceived in a lab before being returned to the uterus.
- Aim to be as healthy as possible before you try to conceive. This means trying to be at a healthy weight and refraining from caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
- Have regular check-ups with your gynecologist to make sure you’re free from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some STIs can negatively impact fertility.
- Be strategic about conception. Track your ovulation with Stix Ovulation Tests to make sure you’re capitalizing on your ovulation.
Ultimately, while the ability to conceive decreases with age, your 35th birthday isn’t a death sentence for your chances to reproduce. Staying healthy and having honest conversations with your doctor can help you make sure you’re able to conceive a child when it’s the right time for your life, and for your body. And you’ll be able to squash that penis envy in the meantime.
How to use an early pregnancy test: A complete guide
What is an ovulation test? Here's what you need to know
Taking Care of Your Heart: Heart health during pregnancy