The Dreaded Biological Clock


The old fairytale has been rewritten. Prince Charming is a thing of the past as women have become the heroes of their own stories. We are building highly successful careers, making our own money, and becoming the champion of our own lives. It’s a long time coming that women thrive in the workplace, and although there is still a ways to go, so much progress has been made. But there is ultimately one thing we cannot change, and that is our biological clock. At some point, we do have to stop and consider if we want a family and when that fits into our lives. I am not suggesting we cannot or should not have it all, but simply that there is need for pause and planning. Working as a nurse in the field of fertility, I have seen far too many patients in their late 30s and 40s who were shocked to find their fertility had diminished. With advances in modern medicine, there are plenty of options to preserve fertility if you find yourself not ready to start the parenting thing just yet.   Here are a few things you can look into if you feel the internal clock ticking:


1. Have your OBGYN check your fertility. I think this should be a standard part of health care. Women in their 20s should start getting ultrasounds with their pap smears. An ultrasound performed vaginally can look at the number of eggs in your ovaries. Counting eggs is one simple measure of fertility that is minimally invasive, quick, and generally painless. This gives you a snapshot of your fertility and can let you know if more testing is needed. Some women have plenty of eggs, while others have fewer. Knowing which category you fall in can help you plan your future.

2. Freeze your eggs. Even if you have a lot of eggs, the quality of those eggs declines as you age. If you are in your mid 30s and do not see yourself getting pregnant in the next couple of years, it might be a good idea to see a fertility specialist. The specialist can discuss the ins and outs of egg freezing and if this is the right fit for you. Freezing eggs gives you an insurance plan, so you have the option of putting parenting on the back burner as you pursue other things. Keep in mind, seeing a specialist does not mean you have to move forward, it just gives you more information.  And information is power.

3. Freeze embryos.  Freezing eggs is a great option for many women, but unfortunately the quality of those eggs is not apparent until they are made into an embryo by combining them with sperm. Women in their 40s (where the proportion of normal eggs is lower), those in same sex relationships or long term relationships (who aren’t quite ready to be pregnant) may want to consider this. If you want greater reassurance than freezing eggs alone can give you, you can consider creating and freezing embryos.  

4. Get pregnant.  This one may freak you out, in which case you can stop reading and revisit the options listed above. But if you have come to that point in your life where you feel you are ready to be a mom this is something you can look into. I have been at that point in life where I felt like a switch flipped and I was ready to be pregnant. This feeling was both physical and emotional and something I could not put aside. Even if you have not found the right partner, donor sperm can be an option. This is a huge decision with many factors to consider, but if you feel that undeniable drive to be a mother, you should not have to deny yourself that longing.

Your fertility should be something you play an active role in. Finding out more information about your body can be scary, but the sooner you do it, the more time you will have to make the right decisions for you. You are the only one who knows what is best for your body, so seek more information to ensure you make informed decisions that give you the greatest opportunity to achieve your future goals and wants. So go ahead, rewrite the fairytale and stop time while you’re at it too.