I am about to turn 36 years old. And I am childless.
There, I said it.
I haven’t even tried to have a baby. I am planning to try at some point, but I have bought plane tickets rather than cribs. I have lived in four countries over the last 10 years. I am blazing my trail to my personal legacy, which may or may not involve motherhood.
There are a lot of opinions about waiting, and many of them are not positive. Even though most of my friends have become mothers in their 30s and 40s, people like to inform me of how difficult it will be. They may be right.
I am not alone in waiting. Every state has seen a rise in women having their first child after the age of 35.(4)
Turns out the dire stats of my decreasing fertility may be based on false assumptions.
Jean M. Twenge, author of “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” and a researcher at San Diego University, wondered if the fear was outdated, and did some personal reading.
She found that around 86 percent of people between 27 and 34 years old conceive in the first year, and 82 percent of people between 35 and 39 years old conceive in the first year, if they have sex at least twice a week.
This is not a massive decline (and by the way, men have a decline with age, too).(1,2)
There may even be a benefit to waiting.
Women who are able to have children later in life without drugs or infertility treatments have genes that make it likely that they will live longer than women who had their last child before 30.
Researchers believe that the same genes that allow a woman to bear a child at a later age may play an important role in slowing down the rate of aging.(3)
I am going to keep that information in my back pocket the next time I am guilted for my small family.
How we reproduce can have as much to do with our lifestyle as our age. Many of us pay more attention to our health as we get older, swapping weekend benders for early bedtimes.