It’s been 30 years since I performed the first successful in-vitro fertilization procedure in Massachusetts, the third in the country. We’ve had many breakthroughs since that time to help infertile couples have a baby who might otherwise not have been able to. But one thing hasn’t changed; the impact of age. The chances of a woman naturally having a baby after age 35 decline by about 50% and decline by about 90% after age 40. Infertility is defined as one year of attempting conception without success.
Celebrities are often seen in the news seemingly able to have a baby after age 40 with ease. They often don’t disclose that they obtained eggs from a younger woman, a procedure called egg donation. So if having a baby is in your future plans, get started before age becomes a factor. If age is a factor, don’t wait to be seen. If you’re over 35, see an infertility expert if you don’t conceive naturally within 6 months. If you’re over 40, be seen after 3 months of unsuccessfully trying. Making a baby takes time.
For those of you who’ve struggled with infertility, I know how stressful it can be. Because of that, I wrote this poem about the invisible loss that occurs and want to share it with you now in honor of Infertility Awareness Week.
Infertility: The Child Who Might Have Been
The simple union of man and wife
In love creates a brand new life
A child to cherish, play with and be
Their link with immortality
What bliss and joy they anticipate
Unless infertility becomes their fate
And buries dreams which die within
As they mourn their child who might have been
© Mache Seibel, MD
Do you know someone who’s had infertility or experienced it yourself? Forward this and post any comments you have. Are you or someone you know planning a pregnancy soon? You’ll find this interactive pregnancy planner and journal helpful; it’s called Journal Babies.
Machelle (Mache) Seibel, MD is one of America’s top health communicators. Whether speaking, consulting, writing or composing he teaches people the health information they need and the perspective they require to stay well. His passion is to help America stay well. “It’s better to stay well than to get well.” Professor and Director, Complicated Menopause Program, University of Massachusetts Medical School 2004-Present Founder of HealthRock®, reshaping health education with music and entertainment Harvard Medical School faculty nearly two decades Past Medical Director, Inverness Medical Innovations (now Alere) 2008 Recipient, Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award, the University of Texas Medical Branch’s highest honor Multiple national awards for research, writing, music and patient education received Author/editor 14 books, over 200 scientific articles, past editor-in-chief of the medical journal Sexuality, Reproduction & Menopause Advisory board of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s HealthCorps initiative to fight childhood obesity Repeatedly voted into Best Doctors in America Hosted PBS and NYC TV episodes, frequent media expert http://www.doctorseibel.com/
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Huey Lewis sang about “The Power of Love.” Now a relatively new field called interpersonal neurobiology is proving your brain is constantly in a state of being rewired based on life and love. And the basis of it all is our interpersonal relationships; those contacts we love deeply, and those we love, well, a whole lot less.
Twenty years ago during a particularly stressful period of work, I began taking a yoga class as a non-pharmacologic antidote. I was running a center for reproduction and women’s health, working 24/7 and needed a way to relax. I had the good fortune to enroll with a yogini named Hari Khar Khalsa, and I took classes from her for a period of time. One day after class I asked her if she would be interested in teaching a yoga class to my patients to lower their stress. We began a series of yoga classes with the first hour consisting of us sitting on mats on the floor with my patients and discussing a health topic. I called them “Mat Chats.” The second hour was devoted to yoga with a focus on the medical topic we had just covered.