What If I Can’t Get Pregnant?
Have you ever asked yourself this question before? Many women have, but don’t like to talk about it. In our baby-bump obsessed culture, conceiving seems as about as easy as binge-watching your favorite Netflix series. We obsess over the pregnant celebrities, ohhh and aahh over gifts at our friends baby-showers. Push presents are even a thing now. Rarely do we talk about the fears and anxieties surrounding conception. And while we’re aware that infertility exists, many women worry silently if they will become another statistic.
So why are women, specifically young women, worrying that they’ll have trouble getting pregnant?
Well, as it turns out, women are only born with a finite amount of eggs- one to two million to be exact. Naturally, as women age, eggs are released, and over time, the numbers begin to drop. After age 30, the chances of having a baby begin to decrease by 3-5% each year. After 40, fertility reduces by an even greater extent.
Over the past 25 years, many women are steadily starting families later in life. In the United States, the average age of first time mothers is at an all-time high of 26 years. In the UK, it is even higher, at 28.5 years. As a result, women are more open about infertility and IVF treatments. It’s a major step forward in its own rights, but is also perpetuating some unnecessary fear in young women who have not even tried getting pregnant yet.
Is There Anything To Worry About?
Yes and No. In an interview with Bustle.com, Julianne Zweifel, a clinical psychologist and Obstetrics and Gynecology professor said, “‘[If you’re young], the odds [of getting pregnant] are still dramatically in your favor…But if you’re the person on the negative end of that percentage, it’s bad. When you are 30 years old and you have fertility problems, you are even angrier than when you’re 36.”
She adds, “You have a backdrop in society of women having kids later and later…You think, ‘Maybe this is more possible’ and you’re lulled into a false sense of security. [But] we weren’t just created in 2014 with bodies that were created in 2014. It really might work out, but the older you get, the less likely that is.”
While this may ease the minds of some young women, for others the fear of infertility is very real.
Emily, a 27 year old, Australian school teacher had this to say,
“I just got married this summer. Since then, my husband and I can’t talk about anything else besides babies. It’s our dream to start a family, but privately I worry, ‘what if I can’t get pregnant?’. At the moment we are not trying, and I have never tried before, but I always have this reoccurring feeling that for whatever reasons, my body just won’t be able to conceive.”
Fortunately, Emily is not alone. In a recent survey of 50 hopeful, future-mothers (ages 21-30), 36 reported having similar fears, despite never having tried to conceive before.
“Of course I think about. I think most women do, but we don’t like to talk about it. Not even to or girlfriends. Instead of, ‘When I get pregnant…’, more and more young women are wondering, ‘If I can get pregnant…’. (Joanne, 24, Grad Student, U.K.)
Instead of, “When I get pregnant…”, more and more young women are wondering, “If I can get pregnant…”
“It’s so weird, and my husband and I never talk about it. When I was a teenager I know I had unsafe sex a lot, and nothing ever happened, so I just feel like their must be something biologically wrong with me. Like either I was very lucky, or I have to be infertile.” (Sara, 28, Realtor, U.S.)
How Easy Is It To Get Pregnant, Really?
Well, statistics actually show that 85% of all couples trying to conceive will get pregnant within 12 months. Those numbers are pretty high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 94% of American women are fertile and 89% will not have any trouble getting pregnant. Similarly in Great Britain, where according to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, 90 percent of women age 19–39 will conceive after two years of actively trying to have a baby.
According to recent statistics from Baby Centre UK, out of 100 couples trying to naturally conceive naturally:
- 20 will conceive within one month
- 70 will conceive within six months
- 85 will conceive within one year
- 90 will conceive within 18 months
- 95 will conceive within two years
While taking up to two years to get pregnant is normal for some couples, it may feel like a long time. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a fertility problem. If you are already trying, remember to keep trying. Half of the couples under 35 who don’t get pregnant within a year, will likely conceive the following year.