Recently, a lot of people have been buzzing about a new book, The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism and the Reality of the Biological Clock by Tanya Selvaratnam. In a recent CNN blog, life expert Wendy Sachs writes about the book’s theme: How we, as women, have an illusion that we can forget our biological clock and do what we want on our own timetable. Putting off pregnancy until we are both emotionally and financially stable is okay in our eyes, because if all else fails, we can turn to medicine to help us conceive.
Society today makes it seem like conceiving in your forties is easy. “The Big Lie” author Tanya Selvaratnam notes that today’s tabloids are littered with stories on forty-something-year-old celebrities having babies, yet we don’t hear about what happens behind-the-scenes. As Wendy Sachs explains, Tanya herself experienced “The Big Lie” when, after suffering from 3 miscarriages before age forty, was told by her OB-GYN that she still “had time” to get pregnant. Instead of seeking out immediate fertility advice, she waited, focusing on her career in acting and film and theater production. What ensued was a string of heartbreaks due to multiple failed IVF treatments, which took a toll not only on her body, but on her marriage as well.
The data proves that the biological clock is all too real. The chances of conceiving naturally at 40 as reported by the Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine are only 5% per cycle, and after 45, the number drops to a staggeringly low 1%. Stack this against your odds at 20, where your chances fall between 20% to 25% per cycle, and the numbers become more real. Wendy writes: “Forty may be the new thirty, but our ovaries have not gotten the same makeover. Even with all the advances in reproductive technology, our eggs have a finite shelf life and the odds of having a child over forty years old are shockingly slim”.
We agree with opening your eyes and looking at the big picture when it comes to infertility. However, the truth about your personal fertility is more complicated. The numbers cited above are averages, true across the population of women studied. But it may not be true of you. Fertility does decline with age, but from years of research, Univfy scientists know that your chronological age is not the only, or even the best, predictor of your fertility. Each woman’s ovaries decline at a different rate. While one forty-year-old may be experiencing a sharp decline in fertility, another may have much better chances. Everyone’s biological clock is different and unique.
Of course, infertility is a real issue that affects approximately 6.7 million women in the U.S. alone. The latest national figures available from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology tell us some 154,412 IVF treatments were conducted in the U.S. in 2011. “The Big Lie ” author Tanya Selvaratnam recommends that every young woman be shown a chart of her overall fertility, so that she understands the biological clock--when her eggs are best and when her numbers will start declining. Though you would think this information should be available, in reality, it is difficult to know what is each woman’s chance of having a baby from natural conception, and how her chance will decline with age. For most couples experiencing difficulties in conceiving that cannot be resolved by simple treatments, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can be the most effective treatment. However, IVF is expensive and may not work for everyone on the first try, and many patients may need to try a second or third time.
Univfy IVF Prediction Tests offers another solution. Our tests, based on research conducted at Stanford University and collaborations with other leading IVF clinics, provide women with a highly accurate reading of their personalized chances of success with IVF treatment, based on her and her partner’s (or donor’s) unique medical profiles. More than half the women tested by Univfy IVF Prediction Tests had better chances than their age alone would suggest. No matter whether you find out you have higher or lower chances than expected, knowing your prospects takes some of the mystery, uncertainty, and frustration out of your fertility journey and helps guide you to the best treatment and options for you much sooner—before you drain your pocketbook and your sanity. Tanya Selvaratnam’s “The Big Lie,” -- the ability of science to step in and make babies for women at virtually any age -- may be a myth for many, but Univfy can help shine some truth to make your fertility path clearer.
To read Wendy's original article on CNN Parents, click here.