Beyoncé’s recent pregnancy announcement is causing the internet to rejoice, but while thanking Queen B for giving us something in the news that’s positive, this is also a great opportunity to discuss fertility and age. Why? Because Beyoncé’s news should urge women to think about family planning and what exactly that means.
In 2009, I began down the path of infertility treatments to build my family and through my research I was able to find a strong community of people just like me. Over the years, we’ve cheered each other on, supported one another and shared a deep appreciation for whenever a celebrity has “come out” to discuss their own fertility journey. Mostly because it helps bring awareness to our community.
Now you may be asking, “How does this relate to me?”
If we take a look back, Beyoncé’s first baby was born at 31 and now at 35, she’s pregnant with twins. Regardless if she went through fertility treatments or not, this should be a good reminder of our biological clock. When you’re over the age of 32 years old (which in the real world isn’t old but in fertility years, it’s beginning to get up there), your egg quality starts to decline.
According to Dr. Maria Bucur, clinical nurse educator at Progyny, a woman’s ability to conceive naturally each month declines as she gets older. At age 30, the ability to naturally conceive is 20% each month and at age 40 it drops to 5% each month.
An additional factor to consider as you get older is that there’s an increased chance of miscarriage. Beyoncé was open about her miscarriage, which I know those who have endured similar losses really respected.
Another celebrity who caused some speculation was Janet Jackson when she announced she was pregnant at 50 years old. Those in our community wondered if she used her own eggs, donor eggs or again, given the statistics, if she was just one of the luckiest, most fertile 50 year olds ever.
Whether they didn't do treatment or had any assistance, it's ultimately nobody’s business. People are genuinely happy for them to be able to have a family. The real point is when we see a celebrity who is “older” (again, I use that term loosely) who is expecting, my concern as an advocate is that it sends out false hope that one can delay having children and have no problem conceiving.
I’m not saying everyone should have children in their early twenties, nor am I saying that everyone will absolutely have to go through fertility treatment if they wait. It’s simply smart to gauge your fertility not by what you read in the news or what someone tells you in the gym locker room (i.e. “I had a sister who got pregnant when she was 40!”), but more by being proactive and getting the necessary tests.
If you’re a woman, this would entail a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist where you’ll review your medical history, get a sonogram (to check your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes to see if there are any polyps, fibroids, cysts or blockage) and a blood test to check your hormones, specifically your Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH). This will give the doctor an overall idea of roughly the amount and quality of your eggs, as well as your fertility health. If you’re a man, you would go to a urologist to get a semen analysis, checking the health and viability of his sperm.
So while we are all excited about the two new members of the BeyHive, I hope those interested in having children will use this moment to consider their own fertility health. I know it’s not quite as exciting as watching Lemonade but its equally empowering!