For women who choose to have children later in life, the messages they hear about their health are often of doom, gloom and general negativity. But a new study may finally have found a true benefit, and it's the one everyone seeks — a longer life.
As the video above details, a study in the journal Menopause found that women who had children later were twice as likely to live exceptionally long lives (considered to be living to 95), as compared to those who stopped having children by age 29.
Of course, it must be noted that in this context, older mothers are considered women who had their children after age 33, which is not even the start of when most believe mothers are "older." The Canadian Institute for Health Information, for example, emphasizes risks for women starting at 35 and up.
Either way, this is great news for a population that is having children older and older (in Canada, the average age of mothers when they give birth is 29.6). And it's not just our society that's reaping the benefits — watch the video above for an explanation as to what this could mean for future generations.
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MYTH: Having A Baby In Your 40s In Common
Unfortunately, this is a myth. Heidi Hayes, CEO of frozen donor egg bank Donor Egg Bank USA, says once you hit 40, there's a small (around 5 per cent) chance you will get pregnant in any given month. This number is often 20 per cent in your 30s. "This is largely due to a steady decline in egg quality that begins when a woman is in her early 30s and then accelerates in the late 30s," she says.
MYTH: Fertility Issues Are Always With The Woman
For men and women in their 20s, there's an equal chance of problems with infertility in either partner, Hayes says. For men in their 40s, there is also a decline in fertility. According to an interview with Dr. Harry Fisch in New York Times, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/ref/health/healthguide/esn-maleinfertility-expert.html" target="_blank">men experience a decline in testosterone as they age</a>. Fisch adds sperm in older men can sometimes lead to genetic abnormalities in newborns.
MYTH: But All The Celebs Are Doing It!
Lately, we've seeing a lot of celeb moms have babies in their 40s. Halle Berry had her baby at 46, Kelly Preston at 47, and Geena Davis had twins at 48. Hayes says while it's statistically unlikely that some older celebrities are having children without any assistance, women in their 40s should not compare themselves to other women. A lot of the times, celebs don't like to discuss their infertility in public, Hayes says.
MYTH: You Can Only Have A Baby With Your Eggs
According to a study in the journal <em>Fertility and Sterility</em>, 40-year-old women treated for infertility have a 25 per cent chance of achieving pregnancy using their own eggs, Hay says. As you age, this number can drop and options like donor eggs and surrogates are other possibilities.
MYTH: The Age Of The Man Doesn't Matter
Again, age matters for both men and women. According to a <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/fathers-bequeath-more-mutations-as-they-age-1.11247" target="_blank">study from Nature.com</a>, the risk of disorders like autism, for example, can increase as men and women age. When you visit a fertility doctor, both men and women should be tested.
MYTH: If You're Healthy And Fit, It Doesn't Matter
You do yoga, run half marathons, eat organic and fit into size six jeans. But do your ovaries do yoga? No. Hayes says eating nutritiously and maintaining a healthy weight can boost fertility, and help balance ovulatory disorders, but it does not affect your ovarian supply and and health of your eggs.
MYTH: I Can't Have A Baby If I Am Starting Menopause
"The quality of a woman’s eggs during this time is significantly reduced and the chances of conceiving decline sharply," Hayes says. However, for women who are in the months preceding menopause, pregnancy is still possible. To know your chances, visit a fertility doctor for testing.
MYTH: Older Mothers Are Less Likely To Have Twins
Hayes says older mothers have a higher likelihood of conceiving twins. As women age, their follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) increases. FSH helps control the production of eggs in women, and Hayes notes that high FHS levels can cause two or more eggs to release, resulting in twins. "Twin rates have also increased due to general fertility and IVF treatment and patients choosing to transfer multiple embryos," she adds.
MYTH: Your Family As A Fertile History, So You Should Be Fine
Like everything else in your body, there is a genetic factor to how your ovaries function, and a correlation between your mother’s and grandmother’s ability to conceive. However, Hayes says women should not rely on genetics as complete reassurance. "Your fertility potential and egg supply is individual. If your grandmother had her last baby at 43 and your mother had infertility at 41, this does not make your chances of conception any higher or lower."
MYTH: Having A Baby With Donor Eggs Doesn't Make You The Biological Mom
"The egg donor is a genetic donor who provides the egg cell and half of the DNA in the creation of each baby, but the woman who carries the pregnancy provides the biological environment to allow the embryo and baby to thrive," Hayes says. Often, women may not feel like a true parent if they adopt or use donor eggs, but Hayes says motherhood is a conscious choice, regardless of how the baby is conceived.
NEXT: 10 things you may not know about fertility
<strong>1. Your fertility is mostly determined by genetics, which influences how many eggs you are born with. </strong> Doctors believe that the number of eggs you have at birth determines the length of time you will remain fertile. At birth, women have about two million eggs in their ovaries. For every egg ovulated during your reproductive life, about 1,000 eggs undergo programmed cell death. Other things, such as smoking cigarettes and certain types of chemotherapy, can accelerate egg cell death and promote an earlier menopause.
<strong>2. Regular menstrual cycles are a sign of regular ovulation.</strong> Most women have regular cycles lasting between 24 and 35 days. This is usually a sign of regular, predictable ovulation. Women who do not ovulate regularly have irregular menstrual cycles. Those who do not ovulate at all may have a genetic condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
<strong>3. Basal temperature charting does not predict ovulation.</strong> An older method of tracking ovulation involves taking your oral body temperature each morning before getting out of bed. This is called basal body temperature. This method is used to spot a rise in basal temperature, which is a sign that progesterone is being produced. The main problem with using this method is that your temperature rises after ovulation has already occurred. This makes it more difficult to time intercourse at an optimal time for conception. A better method is to use over-the-counter urine ovulation predictor test kits such as Clearblue Easy. These kits test for the hormone that prompts ovulation, which is called luteinizing hormone (LH).
<strong>4. Most women with blocked fallopian tubes are completely unaware they may have had a prior pelvic infection.</strong> About 10 percent of infertility cases are due to tubal disease, either complete blockage or pelvic scarring causing tubal malfunction. One major cause of tubal disease is a prior pelvic infection from a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia. These infections can cause so few symptoms that you may be completely unaware your tubes are affected. This is why fertility physicians will order a dye test of the tubes, called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), if you have been trying and failing to conceive for 6 months or longer.
<strong>5. In most cases, stress does not cause infertility.</strong> Except in rare cases of extreme physical or emotional distress, women will keep ovulating regularly. Conceiving while on vacation is likely less about relaxation than about coincidence and good timing of sex.
<strong>6. By age 44, most women are infertile, even if they are still ovulating regularly.</strong> Even with significant fertility treatment, rates of conception are very low after age 43. Most women who conceive in their mid-40's with fertility treatment are using donated eggs from younger women.
<strong>7. Having fathered a pregnancy in the past does not guarantee fertility.</strong> Sperm counts can change quite a bit with time, so never assume that a prior pregnancy guarantees fertile sperm. Obtaining a semen analysis is the only way to be sure the sperm are still healthy!
<strong>8. For the most part, diet has little or nothing to do with fertility.</strong> Despite popular press, there is little scientific data showing that a particular diet or food promotes fertility. One limited study did suggest a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, fish and legumes may help promote fertility.
<strong>9. Vitamin D may improve results of fertility treatments.</strong> A recent study from the University of Southern California suggested that women who were undergoing fertility treatments, but had low vitamin D levels, might have lower rates of conception. This vitamin is also essential during pregnancy. At Pacific Fertility Center, we recommend our patients take 2,000-4,000 IU per day.
<strong>10. Being either underweight or overweight is clearly linked with lowered levels of fertility.</strong> The evidence in recent years is that obesity is clearly linked with a longer time to conception. Having a body mass index less than 18 or over 32 is associated with problems ovulating and conceiving, as well as problems during pregnancy.