Reproductive sciences have allowed millions the opportunity to start a family, but it doesn’t always work as hoped. It should be noted that fertility science is not the rosy-eyed answer to all our fertility based problems. As with all science, it has its limitations.
It may be difficult to believe that infertility is on the increase, with The Huffington Post reporting one in six couples will face fertility issues in their bid to start a family.
Despite several high-profile celebrities announcing that they’re expecting children well into their mid/late forties and beyond, this is not always the case. It is commonly accepted that for women, their age is the most important factor in their ability to conceive. A woman’s fertility decreases steadily from her early thirties. By the time she has reached forty, a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant naturally is as low as 5%.
With an increase in age, also comes the unfortunate increase in expected genetic abnormalities. Cases of Down Syndrome dramatically increase in older mothers and there is also the increased risk of healthy pregnancy and the number of babies safely reaching full term declines. There is also the risk to the mothers themselves as birthing complications become more severe.
It is common knowledge that lifestyle choices impact fertility. Those who smoke can subject their eggs to the toxins from cigarette smoke. If they continue to do so when pregnant, this can directly impact the embryos exposed to the harmful chemicals. Recent studies have shown that a woman’s mother and even grandmother’s smoking habits can impact her fertility.
Both over-weight and under-weight women can face issues. Their hormones can be disrupted and in some cases, they will not be able to conceive as their natural ovulation cycle is disrupted. Although brining their weight back into the normal boundaries can reinstate their cycle, there is always the chance that their bodies have been pushed too far and will not be able to regain normal function.
Where science tries to accommodate for these potential problems, the answers are far from absolutes. Egg freezing can offer women the chance to put their mothering hopes on hold and provide them with precious time should they need it to return to their wish of being pregnant however many years down the line. Even with this, the process is difficult and invasive with no guaranteed results. The eggs can be lost when defrosting and even then, the chance of them successfully being fertilized is limited.
Rates of assisted reproduction have been on a global increase in recent years with many seeking IVF, surrogacy and egg freezing to aid them in having a child.