It seems to happen regularly: patients struggling with infertility pay visits to our offices across New Jersey after reading about celebrities who had a baby in their late forties or even older, all with the same thought: “If they can do it, so can I.”
If you’ve followed the news recently, you’ve probably read about Janet Jackson and Sophie B. Hawkins – both of whom were in their fifties when they gave birth – as well as actresses like Kelly Preston (48) and Halle Berry (47). While they have definitely defied the odds to become mothers later in life, and we’re happy for them, the truth is that their stories are very much the exception, not the rule.
While recent data shows an increase in births by older women, they are, in fact, an infinitesimal fraction of the nearly four million births in the U.S. Thanks to these “celebrity headlines,” we are often left to counsel older patients about their reduced chances of success, the many risks attached to achieving a pregnancy much later in life, and the difference between celebrity and reality.
For hopeful parents who visit us at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, it’s things like finances, careers, and relationships that often lead them to delay starting a family. All of these factors are quite understandable and we, of course, sympathize. But to avoid potential issues even just a few years from now, having a discussion about your fertility and family history today with your ob-gyn or reproductive specialist could save time, money, and emotional distress down the road.
Here are some things to consider:
- In women, peak fertility is in their mid-twenties – an ideal time, if possible, to consider cryopreservation, or egg freezing, as an option for women looking to preserve their fertility and maximize egg quantity and quality.
- By their early thirties, the combination of reduced egg quantity and egg quality make an early infertility evaluation and access to cutting edge technologies more critical to success.
- Those in their mid-to-late forties may need to explore egg donation, which can provide a means to pregnancy with an excellent chance of success.
- At the least, getting a pelvic ultrasound and a basic workup of hormones, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), and estrogen, may offer near-term insights that may prevent future issues.
Bottom line is this: we strongly urge anyone considering fertility services to consult with specialists sooner rather than later. If you’re under 35 and have been trying to get pregnant or can’t stay pregnant for a year or more, it’s time to talk. If you’re 35 and older and have been trying to get pregnant for six months without success, you may want to consider an infertility work-up. There are more than 1,000 reproductive specialists in the U.S. who are ready and willing to help you separate the facts from the gossip when it comes to infertility care.
We cannot let the pursuit of success come before safety of mother and child. Every patient is a celebrity in our hands, and helping them to maximize their chance of having a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery are the headlines we like to read.