Maternal Monday | Women & Fertility

The conversation on fertility is one that many men and women are afraid to open up about. I have many friends and acquaintances who want to have children and are struggling in silence.  It’s a sensitive issue that can be especially painful when there are people constantly saying things like, “So when are you going to have kids?”  People have no idea what that person is going through to bring up a sensitive topic like that.    This is why I thought it was very brave of Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen to open up on their talk show FabLife about their personal struggles with fertility.

Teigen, who is 29, has been married to singer John Legend for two years.  Banks, 41, admits to wanting children and going through the struggles now that she is actually ready to have a baby.  The pain she shares is what many women go through.

When it comes to our maternal health many women don’t receive the education about our bodies and how things change as we age when it comes to conception.  Instead as a young person we’re constantly bombarded with the phrases, “Don’t get pregnant,”, “Finish school before you have kids.”, “You’re too young to have kids. Enjoy life.” and much more like this.  Women are encouraged to either abstain from sexual activity or use contraception at an early age to avoid unexpected pregnancies.  We’re told to avoid getting pregnant before we have finished school, before marriage and before reaching our goals in our chosen careers.  I’m not in any way saying we shouldn’t be educated on the benefits of contraception and abstinence, because it’s very valuable.  I just think we should also receive an equal education on how the body changes as we grow older.

It seems like it’s not until a woman is already in her thirties that she starts learning more detailed information on how her fertility declines as she gets older because she is actually seeking out the information.  At that point it may already be too late and in hindsight she wishes she had the information when she was younger.

One of the suggestions that should be made to young women who are not ready to have children in their twenties could be exploring the idea of having their eggs frozen.  A fertility specialist once told me that its best to have your eggs frozen before age 35.  That was something I didn’t know.  If presented with the information at a younger age, I think some women would take advantage of having their eggs frozen in their twenties so when they are ready, they know they have their own eggs available.

According to a UK report only 2 0f 5 women over age 40 will be able to conceive naturally without trouble.  It’s highly recommended to have children before age 35, but there are several other factors that can play a role in conception that have nothing to do with age.  Teigen, who is only 29, has visited fertility specialists with her husband.  She is still very young but faces challenges in conceiving.

Endometriosis and uterine fibroids are two major health concerns that can play a role in a woman’s ability to conceive.  Endometriosis is a painful chronic condition when tissue (called endometrium) grows outside the uterus in the abdomen, fallopian tubes and other ligaments that support the uterus. It is a very painful illness that can cause infertility.  Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can develop in the walls of the uterus. For many women they are harmless, but for some they can cause fertility issues.  If you have any of these concerns it’s best to seek the help of your doctor to guide you through what can be done to help you get through your own personal struggles.

The full episode of FabLife will air Monday September 21, 2015.  Check your local listings for time and station it will air on.

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