Biological clock a myth, but waiting to start family has its issues

By Hayley Devitt

The obvious truth is women eventually lose the ability to conceive with the onset of menopause. I wanted to find out if this urge to bear children, also known as “baby fever,” was a real phenomenon in the female psyche or just a myth.

According to a Yale University study, there is a common misconception among women that getting pregnant is still relatively simple later in life, during their late 30’s and 40’s. But women who wait are in for some difficulty, and age-related infertility is not reversible. By that token, women now want children at a time that is not ideal for conception, debunking the theory that our bodies crave a fetus when it is time for us to have one.

Emily Reilly, associate director of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, said while many users of the Child Development Laboratory are faculty or staff who delayed having kids to get their degrees, 35 is usually the cut-off age for women conceiving successfully.

After that, “there’s a higher risk of birth defects” and other complications, Reilly said.

Family planning, of course, is rarely just a woman’s issue.

In an alarming article from Psychology Today, men who are older are more likely to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia.

About now our childless, young student readers might be asking this: What does this have to do with me? Why should I, a young person in college, be concerned about my baby-making deadline? I think college students have enough on their plates and numerous decisions to make without worrying about such a thing, but keep in mind something I call the relative minute: Time will only feel shorter the longer you are alive. Very soon we youngsters will be in family-starting mode, if not already.

It is a good thing to wait, but not for too long if children are something you know you want.

The wonderful thing about our current moment in time is there is not as much pressure to have kids as in the past. Social norms are looser and women have more choices in reproductive health. There is also now the option to freeze ova early and save them for later or use donated ones.

As far as “baby fever” being a real thing, I found there is actually little to no research to back it up. It is instead more likely that the supposed bodily longing for a child comes from social cues.

“If one female is related to another, or is best friends with another, female who is pregnant, she wants one too,” said senior illustration major Andrew Carlson.

That’s not always true, though, and senior illustration major Brittany Sherman thinks of it differently.

“My boyfriend has baby fever more than I do,” said Sherman. “There is the obvious other part to that though. The way you make babies is enticing to him.”

There you have it. As with anything else in life, act and plan for children according to your own wants and needs.