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Health » Sexual-health » Careervsbaby-060628
 
Career versus baby

Dr. Aniruddha Malpani Dr. Aniruddha Malpani
Renowned infertility specialist. He runs an infertility clinic in Mumbai and has written many books.

Career versus baby
It's World Infertility Month - time to view the reasons behind growing infertility problems

Many IVF clinics in urban centers all over the world are increasingly seeing a larger number of a new type of patient - the older woman, who chose to postpone childbearing because she wanted to pursue a career; and now finds, when she wants to start a family, that she cannot conceive because her eggs are too old.

Ironically, this same woman would have had many babies in her own bedroom in an earlier generation, when women married young and their primary goal was to build a family. It is true that the modern young woman has many more options and much more freedom than she ever did in the past. However, one of the prices women pay today for this freedom is a higher risk of infertility, as a result of their postponing their childbearing. There is a price you pay for everything, and sometimes it's hard to have your cake and eat it too!

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For example, I just did an IVF cycle for a very nice 32 year old woman. She is happily married, confident, articulate; and has a very successful career. She now wants to start a family, and has found, to her dismay, that she can't conceive on her own. During her workup, she found to her shock that her egg quality was poor. She could not understand why her egg quality was an issue when she was only 32 years old.

I explained the biology of fertility to her. All women are born with a certain number of eggs - and they don't produce any new eggs during their lifetime (unlike men, who produce millions of sperm daily). As women grow older, their eggs start getting depleted, until they run out of eggs and their periods stop for ever. This stage is called the menopause. However, for a period of about 10 years before they reach the menopause, their egg quality declines silently, so that it's enough for them to get regular periods, but not enough for them to conceive. This phase is called the oopause, and is "silent" - there are no signs or symptoms, as the biological clock ticks on with a vengeance. This is why when a young woman with regular cycles finds out she is infertile because of poor quality eggs, the news comes as a rude shock.

This is the first time these young people are having to confront their own biological limitations - their own mortality. Most other things in life have fallen into place for them. They work hard, do well in their exams and jobs, earn more money, get a promotion, buy a new car, a new house - and this is the first time they are being forced to deal with a situation which is out of their control - no matter how hard they work at it, or how much money they spend on it. This can be a very uncomfortable feeling, and they find their life spins out of control.


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