Friday, 12 February 2010

Older Women, Run for the Pills!

You know how it is when it comes to, you know, the birds and the bees. It all starts out innocently enough - you pick up on the little signs, you start thinking about it more and more, wondering what could happen. Momentum builds, feelings take over, one thing leads to another and you’re in need of a counter awareness campaign.

And so it follows that this week has been Contraception Awareness Week, AKA Conceivable?, a campaign to remind women over the age of 35 that they are still fertile and far from over the hill when it comes to getting pregnant.

The previous message, that waiting until later in life to start a family comes with risks, has hit home so successfully it has apparently led to the statistic - that I found genuinely astounding - that the rate of abortions in women aged 40-44 was as high as for the under 16s. Pregnancies sadly considered as unlikely as they were unwanted.

Now, there’s no doubt that fertility does decline, as you can see from the chart below, that I nicked off here.This is nothing but pure guesswork on my part but I was left wondering what part stress might have to play in this. The findings on declining fertility would surely predominantly include women who were trying to get pregnant in the first place. Meanwhile, a separate bunch of women who weren’t aiming conceive found themselves succeeding where they hadn’t tried.

Again, I know it’s pure conjecture but could there be another group of ‘victims’ in the fertility campaign? If a group of women believed they were positively barren and had no need of contraception, why would we assume this belief is not more widespread? Could stress and anxiety, as opposed to age alone, be having a larger part to play than is acknowledged?

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