Unlike a lot of people who deal with infertility, I had a diagnosis and an expectation that things would go not so well long before I was remotely interested in having kids. I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 23 and my wonderful primary care doctor was fairly nonchalant about the fact that when I did want to get pregnant, a little Clomid would do the trick.
It didn’t. But at least I was able to tell my now-husband that getting pregnant might not be so easy once things started getting serious, so neither of us were especially surprised when things didn’t go so well. Many of my friends who also faced down infertility said they envied me that, that I was able to tell my partner long before we were formally committed and let him decide if he was up for the challenges we might face.
A new genetic test might give a new group of women that chance. An at-home test for diminished ovarian reserve has been available for a few years now, but now Dr. Norbert Gleicher of the Center for Human Reproduction says he has developed a test that can predict exactly when a woman’s ovaries will start to fail. The thinking is that if a woman knows she might only have X number of years to conceive a child with her own eggs, she can choose to have ovarian tissue frozen, plan to use donor eggs, adopt a child or live her life child free instead of having the decision of how to build her family made for her by default.
Jezebel took issue with his quote, “Then you can sit down and have a discussion about her reproductive life plan. In other words, ‘do you want to have your kids before you get your PhD, or afterwards?’ If the answer is ‘afterwards’, OK, but maybe you want to freeze some eggs.” I can understand the writer’s feelings — after all, the decision of how and when or whether to build a family is a lot more complicated than that.
But personally, I get sick of all the drumbeating that women who suffer infertility somehow bring it on themselves by being career focused or simply following their bliss when they are young and more fertile. For every person who seemed blindsided by the idea that it becomes increasingly difficult to get pregnant the older you are and spent their 20s and 30s indulging themselves and living the consumerist dream only to wail when they couldn’t have a baby easily at 40, I know several who delayed childbearing for much more sensible reasons. Finances, finding a partner, establishing a career, finding a place to call home, becoming a grownup person who can put the needs of others above her own — those are all important things and not everybody has accomplished that by 35 or so. Giving women a heads-up that their clock is going to run out much sooner than most people’s gives them another piece of information when planning their lives and a little more power in that decision-making.