It is true that we spend most of our 20s trying not to get pregnant. Perhaps it is because weâ€™ve not met the right man or we want to travel, study or concentrate on building our careers, and having a baby would certainly put the kibosh on that! But when it comes to the time when we have settled down, met the man of our dreams and that biological clock is not only ticking, but the alarm bells are ringing loudly – we often find ourselves in our 30s, wondering if weâ€™ve left it too late.
More and more people these days are leaving starting a family later in life, in fact the average age for a first pregnancy in New Zealand is 30 â€“ which is the highest in the world! But what happens if we do not get pregnant as quickly as we had hoped? Certainly by the time we hit 30, our fertility rates will have declined significantly from when we were 20.
The following chart of the fertility-age link is a commonly-cited estimate of the likelihood of conception where both partners in a couple are the same age, after one year of unprotected intercourse:
- Age 20: 90 percent
- Age 30: 70 percent
- Age 35: 55 percent
- Age 40: 45 percent
- Age 45: 6 percent
This of course does not take into account any potential fertility challenges, such as endometriosis, PCOS, sperm abnormalities and the myriad of other things that can go wrong in the process of human reproduction.Â Taking these potential issues into account, these percentages are likely to be even lower…..but despite all this, women in their 30s and 40s are still having babies naturally.
Pregnancy is a miracleâ€“ it truly is! The number of things that have to happen to achieve a conception are, quite frankly, amazing. The problem is that when you are in your mid 30s and beyond we see statistics like that above and are led to believe that it is nigh on impossible to conceive. This is simply not true but we do need to educate ourselves about our fertility.
For me personally, pregnancy was a triumphÂ – something that I never thought would happen naturally and spent the majority of my 20s and 30s believing that it would never happen at all.
Iâ€™ve had severalÂ challenges with my fertility in the past including an ectopic pregnancy in my teens, resulting in the removal of a fallopian tube, endometriosis, a history of ovarian cysts & then the good old problem of a lack of a decent bloke who wanted to have babies with me!!!Â All of which contributed to me being 36 years of age and childless! Â Iâ€™d finally met the man of my dreams, but was time running out for me?
In my quest for a child I turned to the internet and whilst bombarded by those darned statistics telling me to get a move on, I also came across some amazing stories from women with fertility issues like myself, turning to acupunctureÂ & chinese medicine, so I went investigating…surely this could be something to try?
It was then that I met my lovely acupuncturist, Lisa and my whole life changed.Â Lisa was (and continues to be) amazing. She sat and listened to me and treated me both with acupuncture and herbs…but for me, most importantly she taught me about my fertility and how to chart my menstrual cycles. Why did I not know how to do this before? How come we are not taught this stuff in school?
It was through charting and timing intercourse correctly (and getting rid of the negative mindset that I had carried around with me since I had my ectopic) that I was delighted to fall pregnant in just 8 months of â€śtryingâ€ť. Â And with my â€śissuesâ€ť, this was incredible!Â So there I was 36 years old and I had a viable pregnancy . Â I was finally going to be a Mum!
Getting pregnant later on in life may not be as easy as it would have been in your 20s, thatâ€™s true. Â But that is not to say that it is impossible. The most important thing is to educate yourself about your fertility, know when you are ovulating, and therefore timing intercourse appropriately, know what supplements to take, what foods are best for both of you and what not to do (smoking, alcohol, stress, spa baths for the boys etc). There are a myriad of things you can do to improve your fertility with a change of lifestyle.
It was through my experience with conception and fertility challenges that I decided to retrain to become a Natural Fertility Practitioner. I knew that if I could conceive against all the odds just by being more fertility aware, changing some things in my life and becoming healthier, that I could certainly help others to do the same. And it is more than worth the effort!