Is Your Biological Clock Saying Goodbye?

Making the decision to leave a lover behind can be the hardest decision you will ever make. But what if the reason is purely scientific? Many women find when they approach their late twenties and early thirties there can be more to life then simply following your heart. As a new brand of career savvy women find themselves having to choose between a relationship and being promoted they are also faced with an even tougher question. If I want kids now and he doesn’t, do I leave?

“This can be the most difficult decision women of today have to make,” says Dr David Walsh co-founder, director and Consultant Gynaecologist at the Sims Clinic, Ireland’s largest private fertility treatment unit.

“Mother nature thinks you are at your ideal child bearing age from the ages of 20 and 29. But Irish women generally start in their 30s. That’s the way society has moved. Our job is to mitigate these issues and limitations.”

As Dr Walsh has seen many women wait to have children. So should we drive our partners away when they’re not ready or try and patiently keep our cool? Should we say goodbye to someone who hasn’t the same lust for parenthood as we do, and wants to make us wait?

“People need to make their own decisions but they need to be proactive before it’s too late,” advises Dr Walsh. They need to look at their options in the cold light of day even if it’s to decide that, no, they won’t go ahead with it. Even if you’re 39 and you’re told that the option of freezing your eggs is bad – you might decide it’s the best option for you. Either way these decisions concentrate your mind.”

Singer Cheryl Crow is a perfect example of someone who waited for her partner to change his mind – only to find it was a frustrating game.

At 44, her biological clock had gone into overdrive. Unfortunately, her partner, cyclist Lance Armstrong didn’t feel the same. Coming out with a statement early this month he blamed her biological clock on the reason for their split three years ago.  In a book titled ‘Lance’ the biker told author John Wilcockson that after the two got engaged their relationship went downhill.
“She wanted marriage, she wanted children; and not that I didn’t want that, but I didn’t want that at that time because I had just gotten out of a marriage, I’d just had kids,” Armstrong, said. “Yet we’re up against her biological clock – that pressure is what cracked it.”
Lance and Sheryl attempted to go to a relationship counselor to figure it out, Lance saying: “There’s no way to counsel that situation. Because if somebody wants a child – man, that’s the greatest gift you can give to a woman – so who are you to stand there and say I don’t want one. So we were at different points in our lives. We were not compatible on that issue.”

So should women be freezing their eggs instead of using them in the vague hope that their partner might finally decide he’s ready?

“Medicine and technology can only overcome age factors by about 50% but technology is limited,” says Dr Walsh.

“What we usually see are women who haven’t yet had the chance to establish a relationship and want to go ahead with IVF. The sad thing is we prefer to freeze eggs before the age of 35 – but most people who come to us wanting that are 37 or 38. It’s a case of when you don’t want it you can have it and when you do want it, you can’t have it.”

But if the thought of leaving your partner is too much to consider, take these statistics into account – by the age of just 30 roughly 7% of couples are infertile. By the age of 40 that becomes 33% of couples.

The cold hard facts say if you definitely want children you need to realise that as your age increases so does your chance of having children decrease. For example 75% of couples aged 25 will conceive in less than 6 months but by 35-39 years of age the chance of conception drops to 25% in the same time period.

With the clock ticking all the time, you begin to ask yourself questions. What if I don’t meet anyone new as soon as I’d hoped? Or what if my current partner were to change his mind in a few years?

Luckily Crow didn’t wait for a man to give her a baby. She took matters into her own hands and adopted a two week old boy in May 2007. Was she right to do that? She most surely believes so.

  • One in ten Irish couples of reproductive age experience difficulties conceiving a child.
  • If you and your partner have been trying to become pregnant for 12 months unsuccessfully, it is time to talk with your General Practitioner, and sooner if you are over 35 years of age.
  • Infertility is defined by the World Heath Organisation as the inability of a couple to achieve conception after a 12 month period of unprotected intercourse.
  • The growing trend for Irish women to delay childbearing is having a significant impact on their individual fertility, and consequent need for fertility treatment.
  • The average age of women having their first child in Ireland today is 29 and rising all the time. In 1978 this figure was 25 years. Consequently the numbers of women seeking fertility treatment is also rising.
  • Few pregnancies are recorded after the age of 45.
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