biological clock and getting pregnant

Delaying pregnancy can be risky. Photo Shuttershock

Biological clock: when is a women most fertile?

One of the most obvious and drastic alterations to lifestyle, as it existed throughout our human evolutionary past, is the abundance of food.

As a natural adaptation to the 1) high caloric intake, 2) continuous presence of sugars in our diet, and 3) generally increased insulin levels, we now see earlier sexual maturity and menarche onset in young girls in our culture.

Biological clock and getting pregnant go hand in hand in this phase of life.

In the words of biology, our genes are telling us: look, we happen to be trapped in your pretty body at the moment, so could you please reproduce and let us go ASAP? It took this universe a lot of work to create someone as perfect as you are, so please don’t delay your pregnancy for too long!

As far as our genes are concerned, it is not relevant what we undertake with our lives after that point – as long as we live long enough to support the new baby and help it reach sexual maturity, we are free to stay around and become helpful grandmothers, or pursue our own projects, or not live at all.

We matter, but not that much.

However, the reproductive choices made by many young women in Western societies take them in the opposite direction to their own biology. The arrival of the first menstrual cycle is often seen as nothing more than a time to start taking a contraceptive pill! In fact, several of my friends who spent the first half of their reproductive lives on the pill, and then went through years of infertility pain afterwards, told me how they wished they were taught less about the details of contraception and more about getting pregnant instead.

 

improve egg quality before too late

Women need to care about improving quality of their eggs. Image courtesy: stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Missed the best age to get pregnant? Delaying childbearing can be risky

 

The reproductive drama of a modern woman typically continues into the adult years of 30 and above. Overwhelmed with opportunities, she tends to forget that her age is young from the perspective of an over 80-years life expectancy, but she is not young in the sense of one physiological process that started with the first menarche, peaked several years ago, and is slowly progressing to its end.

In other words, once we start to hear that famous biological clock ticking, it is actually starting to beat its last years!

When you were 20, nothing was ticking, beating, or feeling otherwise strange, right?

Sorry to say, but after 35 we are long down the road of simply getting old and there is no disease behind it, only a few fancy terms to help us better deal with it.

Yes – many of us will still succeed and become mothers, but speaking in the language of biology, anything after 30 is not the best fertile age for women.

 

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diminished ovarian reserve

How many eggs do you have left? Image courtesy: Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How many eggs do you have left?

Marginally aware that something important may still be missing in their life (babies!), many women in this age group take a superficial approach to cope with their mixed feelings.

Instead of focusing on getting pregnant, they pay attention to styling and exercise, go on diets, and are happy when someone says, they looked like as they’re eighteen.

At the same time, they eat huge amounts of calories disguised as food, use caffeine and sugars to help them get through their busy days and generally ignore parts of their body that are not directly visible.

 

On average, these pretty and smart women know more about delaying the aging of the skin than how to best feed and how to support their diminishing ovarian reserve.

By the age of 30, their eggs have strongly declined in number and quality. Ovarian reserve is coming to its end and only about 12% of her eggs are left at this point (Wallace WHB, 2010). Biological clock and getting pregnant are not friends any more.

Logically, after such a woman invests so much into what she considers to be “herself,” she wants to get credit for her efforts. After the first job, she then takes a second one to get herself promoted, and maybe even a third to help her get established and build up a basis of a life…in which, someday, a family may fit. Depending on her profession, pace of personal development, and pure luck, this process can take anything between a few years and never.

 

biological clock

Biological clock is hard to ignore. Image courtesy: Image courtesy: stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fertility in women over 35: What is the sound of a biological clock?

In the meantime, our bodies keep sending us subtle reminders. For instance, you may start finding babies adorable even if they only annoyed you before. Or, seeing a pregnant woman on the street doesn’t feel like seeing a poor monster any more.

After a certain age, these inner voices become louder and impossible to ignore. A woman can suddenly start waking up before dawn with a strange feeling in her chest, become very tensed in the days before her period arrives, or experience all kinds of strange oscillations in her blood pressure.

Most women over 35 virtually can hear the mechanism of that famous biological clock ticking its last years, even those who consciously decide they don’t want to have children at all. Mood oscillations can take wild swings, with the pendulum switching fromhyperactivity to melancholy, to only quickly pass through the state of mind that once felt “normal.”

Even at this late stage, most women will ignore these signs. They don’t make sense, they don’t make her feel better, and they don’t fit with her picture of life as she knows it.

Besides, her partner can easily get scared if a woman suddenly says, I think I need to have a baby now.

In my opinion, this is a very under-reported issue that often complicates the lives of women this age.

But why marry a boyfriend who doesn’t want to have kids?

And how much does he know about pregnancy after 35?

He can later still change his mind, but you can’t! So, how about discussing when YOU want to get pregnant?

Sadly, there are only less than 5% of the eggs left at this point in life, and

many of them can’t build viable embryos any more. Biological clock and getting pregnant have become enemies.

It would be a gross oversimplification to say that women who plan to become mothers lose power with losing eggs, but, in economic, terms, their life situation requires that the remaining eggs be sold at the highest price possible.

This means that expectations towards potential fathers increase with a woman’s own advancing age, education, and life experience, so that is not surprising that many will find themselves confronted with serious anxiety issues in this phase of life.

 

egg quality

Why put all the remaining eggs into one basket? Image courtesy: kittisack at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Biological clock is ticking…but for how long?

Interestingly, many women have difficulty coping with these facts of life and would rather invest their energy in denying it or in finding rare exceptions to prove the opposite. We all know that an average woman still has some good quality eggs remaining at the age of 35 and beyond, which is a very reassuring fact.

Unfortunately, we love to picture to ourselves that it is possible to stretch those for many years, or even a decade, until we settle down and create optimal conditions for raising children. What we love to forget is that female fertility (just like most biological processes) takes a Gaussian shape, meaning that, at a certain age both the increase and the decline in fertility are steady and slow.

Unfortunatelly, the reality is that, at the end of a woman’s fertile years, her remaining eggs disappear rather like a waterfall and within a relatively short timeframe.

Luckily, this process can be influenced to some extent (please read in my book more on HOW), with the right combination of supplements, diet, and lifestyle. In addition, there are many naturally occurring exceptions where women are fertile up until their mid-forties. However, for those who are serious about becoming mothers, it is best not to base their reproductive decisions on these slim chances.

get pregnant with twins

Pressure to have a perfect family. Image courtesy: davidcastillodominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another serious problem, in my opinion, is that magazines and TV work against common sense and don’t do anything to inform young women on these important issues!

Instead of helping educate young generations as early as possible so that they can make better reproductive decisions when there is still a choice, most magazines aimed at young women are full of exceptional stories, oft overblown to the point where they have hardly any connection to reality.

Almost every day, women are influenced by the pictures of first-time mothers or celebrities over 40, happily smiling with their twins or pursuing ambitious careers while pregnant…Without wanting to say that such events are entirely impossible, I just wish to remind that their biological clocks are not any different to yours, only that nobody will ever know how many IVF and ICSI rounds these women may have gone through, or which egg donor programs were available to those with a lifestyle and budget different from what an average woman can afford.

 

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