Let's Talk About Fertility
Women's fertility is highest between age 20 and age 24 -- after the age of 30, it will start declining, and decline faster after age 35. By the time a woman is 40, only about two-fifths of women who want a baby will be able to get pregnant and stay pregnant.
However, contrary to ancient popular beliefs, the ability (or inability) to get pregnant does not lie solely with the woman. About one-third of infertility is because the female partner can't get pregnant, but one-third is also attributed to the male partner. The other one-third occurs from a combination of infertility in both partners or is simply inexplicable.
For many couples not being able to get pregnant naturally can seem shameful. Yet, almost 12% of women have received infertility services during their lifetime and over 40% of women who suffer from infertility have sought medical intervention. Of these women, around 65% have successfully given birth. And, according to data from the National Survey of Family Growth (2002), the Centers for Disease Control found that between 3-5 million men under the age of 45 went to see a fertility doctor.
So if you're having trouble getting pregnancy naturally, remember: you're not alone and there are still options available to you.
What are the Options for Couples Trying to Get Pregnant?
Between 85-90% of couples who are infertile get treated with drug therapy or a surgical procedure. One popular procedure is IVF treatment .
The "IVF" in IVF treatment stands for in vitro fertilization. During IVF treatment, eggs are gathered from the woman's ovaries and mixed with the sperm from the male in a laboratory (you may have heard the term "test tube baby" used before). Once the eggs have been fertilized, they're kept under surveillance for a few days in the laboratory to make sure things are proceeding as they should, and then put into the woman's uterus to grow.
Another popular treatment for infertility, apart from IVF treatment is artificial insemination (commonly abbreviated as AI). With this method, sperm is placed in the woman's cervix or uterus, close to the time or during ovulation. This eliminates the long path that sperm need to travel to reach the egg and will increase chances of fertilization.
With donor eggs, an egg is donated by another woman (usually a young woman) and fertilized using the male partner's sperm. The female partner then receives the fertilized egg in her uterus. Many older women tend to opt for this method.
What's the Right Path For Us?
Visiting a reproductive center and talking with a fertility expert, as well as your own doctor will help you answer that question. Depending on your age, health, and what fertility tests show, there could be a number of options open to you. Some couples may even turn to surrogate mothers or adoption if other fertility options don't work out.
Take time to discuss with your partner and doctor and see what you feel is the best fit for you. Whether that's continuing to try naturally, IVF treatment, or another path, don't give up your dream of creating a family.