19 September 2005

Warning To Would-Be Elder Mothers

Maricel Soriano, a talented Philippine actress says she doesn't miss sex and hasn't actually been intimate with a man for 10 years now. She is now 40 years old.

Wow. I have nothing against that. But I wonder how women like her do it. How does one effectively defy one's biologic nature?

Dr Susan Bewley, consultant obstetrician at St Thomas Hospital in London, along with colleagues, wrote a thought-provoking editorial in the current issue of the British Medical Journal which said that women who wait until their late 30s and well into their 40s to have children are defying their biologic nature and risking heartbreak by facing possible health problems for both future mother and baby. I urge you to read the full text of Dr Bewley's editorial aptly titled Which Career First? if you have time.

The editorial observes that the number of pregnancies in women over 35 years old are increasing in Western countries. These women take comfort in the fact that having children can be postponed to a later age since the medical field now has available fertility treatments should there be any problems.

The London fertility experts however, warn that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) --- which is the possible medical option to solve infertility problems --- continues to be an expensive, invasive treatment with high failure rates. How high? The editorial quotes as high as 70 percent of women undergoing a cycle of IVF do not achieve a live birth, and more than 90 percent when women are older than 40.

The experts maintain that the best age for childbirth remains at 20 to 35.

I do not worry for Ms Maricel Soriano, for she seems contented with her life. I think she already had a child 11 years ago when she was 29. What I worry about is the way she can decide not to be interested in sex, which, while it may be okay for her since she has already a kid, may not be okay with other women who are likewise disinterested in sex, but has no children yet.

Of course, of course, I understand. I know what you're thinking, ladies. But I agree with the experts. Here's what they said: "Maybe instead of waiting for Mr Right, they ought to wait for Mr Good-Enough, if they want children."

For couples who decided not to have children yet, because they are busy with their work and careers, the editorial also mentioned possible problems with men, whose sperm cell counts also decline with age, and can be another contributing factor to future problems of having kids. Do you know that children of older men have an increased risk of schizophrenia and other mutations like achondroplasia and Marfan syndrome?

So, which will it be? Which career would you like to prioritize? The mother-career or still the work-career? Your choice. Choose while there's time.

Sometimes you can't have it all.

14 reactions:

sharima said...

hala, since my biological clock is ticking (and ticking loudly) dapat siguro mag hanap na ako ng mr. good enough... I wonder if TC is good enough, what do you think doc? hehehe

Rygel said...

if i made a comment here i might be viewed as a sexist but it appears that Ms. Soriano has equated sex with relationship hence her statement in the website. At least her values are intact despite her celebrity status.

may said...

for all we know, maricel soriano would still be very interested in having sex, but would rather not act on it, (in a conventional way)considering the business she is in, and the loads of mess she might go through when she goes into a relationship at this time. she probably learned that she is better off being creative, in meeting her sexual needs.

Dr. Emer said...

You're the best person who can answer that question, Sharima.

You mean relationship with God, right Rygel?

Aha! That's a whole new perspective, May. That might also be the case.

Toni said...

Well, I'd like to make motherhood my career choice but it doesn't seem to be choosing me!

ruth said...

i think for a lot of women, childbirth is being postponed not because of lack of interest in sex but because society doesn't make it easy for women to have both a career and a child. that female doctor who made the study should know it. maybe the question that should be asked is: "does having a career defy a woman's biologic nature?"

incidentally doc, since you mentioned IVF, have you heard of the fertility ships scheme?

angelbeam said...

isn't it ironic that the propensity for a healthy childbirth seems to be inversely proportional to emotional maturity?

i can't imagine having had a baby at 20, when i was still seeking my own identity.

Duke said...

having a baby is a BIG investment of time, love, money and all kinds of investment I can think of. It seems that more and more women ( and couples) get pregnant at a later age because of fear if not being able to provide enough for their child...

Dr. Emer said...

I know it will come soon for you, Toni....when you least expect it.

Interesting insight, Ruth. Here in our country, maybe one of the reasons why we are overpopulated is because society permits women to have both career and children at the same time. Here grandpas and grandmas can substitute as nannies for the babies, so the women can continue working. I haven't heard of the fertility ships yet. But one thing I know --- Filipinos won't be needing that very much.

Different strokes for different folks, Angelbeam. The researchers didn't consider emotional maturity as a factor.

Ah, the "all-or-nothing concept" in action, Duke! Yes, I know that. 'Problem is, women's fertility periods have expiration dates.

eye said...

i once joked that i wish i was a chicken who could conceive asexually, just by drinking/eating feeds hehehe! they always say that eggs are healthiest when the mother < 32 years old... i have 4 more years to search for a father :)

Dr. Emer said...

Take your time, Eye! Finding good genes takes time. ;) Asexual reproduction is cool, though sometimes I think we'd be having more problems with overpopulation should that happen. :)

joyce said...

oh dear...i have not been intimate for 4 years, and would say that i don't miss it that much...2 years ago, during a regular visit to the OB, i remember asking her what could be the worst thing that will happen to me should i continue to be "single". she candidly said..."mag a-atrophy yan..." my mind seemed to have drifted into space (i have ample knowledge of physics) as i imagined how the female organ will look like if it will really undergo atrophy =( josko!!!

jey said...

i am looking forward to motherhood, although that won't be happening yet. and while that is still being anticipated, i'm enjoying whatever (professional and otherwise) life throws my way.

Dr. Emer said...

*LOL* Joyce, it is such a horrible outcome, indeed.

Take your time, and there's no need to rush, Jey. You're very young.