Myth: You are too old to have kids.
Every year on May 1st I smile and cry. I smile because it marks the beginning of my birthday month! I cry because it also means I am turning yet another year older and visions of cloud covered desert waste lands brimming with shriveled eggs fill my mind. In the days leading up to my birthday an old frog resembling Yoda comes to me in my dreams. He whispers in halting words, “The older become you, less fertile you will be.”
When I wake up, I often wonder what will happen if I kiss the frog. Will he turn into a prince? Will he grant me three wishes? Will he turn back my biological clock? Every year I would wake up a little sad; until, last year when I saw the silver lining in the small clouds over me.
Last year I became engaged! The excitement of the engagement and starting a family spawned two fears: 1) I was too old to have kids and 2) my Fiance would not love me if I could not have kids.
I decided to visit my doctor and ask her if Yoda was right. She reassured me I can still have children and that many of her patients are in my age group. Was my doctor just trying to make me feel better? Shocked, I decided to do a little research. Here is what I found:
- Infertility defined: Infertility is not being able to produce offspring. In women it is not being able to conceive and in men it is the not being able to impregnate.
- Age Affect: Although fertility in women declines past the age of 32, there are other factors to consider, such as smoking and fitness. According to the mayoclinic.com,
- women who smoke tend to have a higher risk of miscarriage, and
- a sedentary, inactive lifestyle increases risk of infertility.
From 1990 to 2008 the number of women ages 30 to 44 who had a child has increased (source census.gov). In addition, research by Dr. Heffner (2004) concludes, “For women between 35 and 45 years of age for whom earlier childbearing is not an option, this decade remains safe enough that maternal age alone should not be a contraindication to childbearing.”
- Nutrition Affect: Further research is needed before a specific diet is positively linked to fertility rates. While there is no clear evidence linking diet, including herbal therapies or supplements to higher fertility rates, vitamin C, zinc and folate deficiencies may contribute to infertility problems.
I do not believe my doctor was simply trying to make me feel better. Until I actually try to have kids I won’t know if my age is a contributing factor. What I do know is that I do not smoke, I lead an active lifestyle and that infertility can be treated.
So if Yoda comes back this year, I’m going to tell him “Too old to have kids, I am not!”
National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24 – 30.
- Infertility: Causes – Mayoclinic.com
- Linda J Heffner, MD. (2004). Advanced Maternal Age – How Old Is Too Old? The New England Journal of Medicine. 351(19), 927-9.
- U.S. Census Bureau, The 2011 Statistical Abstract