I am a 41 year old woman with a one year old child. She is my first child. Her birth was not my first time in a delivery room, though. I’m an Ob-Gyn who had been in hundreds of delivery rooms before I was checked in under my own name. I’m also a fertility specialist who helped hundreds of other women get pregnant before I admitted that I was a specialist who needed a specialist.
Even fertility doctors can have a hard time conceiving. No matter how much help we give other people, like all human beings, sometimes we have to ask for help too.
Consider also that I was doing everything “right.” Sure I was in my late thirties when my partner and I started trying to have a baby. But I also felt young, and I am a healthy woman who exercises, eats well and takes care of myself. It should have been easy, right? Not so much. After many months of trying we realized that it wasn’t happening.
It became harder to be around happy moms with their beautiful kids. That was something my clients often expressed when they first visited me, and here I was, having similar thoughts.
If they could do it, why not me? So I gave myself the advice I’ve given countless friends in similar situations: go see a specialist.
My doctor told me what I had told so many women: getting pregnant at age 39 can be tricky. And even though I already knew that as a fact, coming from my doctor, it still made me feel better.
Sometimes women who come to see me are shocked to learn how difficult it can sometimes be to get pregnant in their late and sometimes mid-thirties. This is in part because the media too often highlights celebrities who get pregnant in their 40’s and50’s which lets us draw the incorrect conclusion that this is the norm. What is not advertised though is that women conceiving in their late 40’s and 50’s usually conceive with the eggs of younger women rather than their own.
There are many reasons to see a fertility specialist.
Some women want to conceive faster than they are able to do so on their own. Some women have their potential pregnancies can be tested before conception in order to increase the chance that they will give birth to a healthy baby.
Some women want to use donor sperm to conceive either because they are in a same sex relationship, because their husbands are unable to donate, or because they want to be single moms.
A young and healthy woman who wants kids “one day” may consider visiting a fertility specialist to check on the status of her eggs now.
If you have a good and healthy egg supply then you may feel comfortable waiting and seeing.
On the other hand, if you are running out of eggs faster than would be predicted based on your age, you may want to make a decision earlier.
A fertility specialist can help figure this out using blood tests and ultrasound.
Technology today also gives you choices your mother and grandmother never had. For instance, you may want to freeze your eggs. This would allow you to use those eggs one day in the future if you happened to have trouble conceiving down the road.
For me, deciding after a very emotionally difficult period of time to take some of my own medicine was the best thing I ever did. I saw a specialist and was treated for infertility. After a few bumps in the road, I gave birth a year ago to a little baby girl who has brought more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined was possible. I often thank her for coming into this world and making me a mommy.
So, should women eat healthy and stay fit and decrease their stress?? Absolutely! That will only increase the chance that a woman’s body will be able to house a happy, healthy and growing baby one day. But sometimes we just need some expert, outside help.
Dr. Diana Chavkin is a board certified fertility specialist who currently sees patients at HRC Fertility in Los Angeles. She earned her medical degree at New York University and completed her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency and her Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.