Geriatric pregnancy

One of the funnier topics I saw the other day on facebook was that some of the older millennial women were complaining and offended about when their doctors used the term “geriatric pregnancy” when they went in to get checkups.

The definition of geriatric pregnancy is having a pregnancy at or anytime you are 35 or older. Of course, this is most of these women’ 1st or 2nd kid (and probably last), and a bunch of them are more at risk for birth defects because of their age as well as various complications. 

But they’re “soooo offended” by the term they can’t look to see past the fact that delaying children is indeed not normal and increases risks for everything. Some of the same women were posting about their difficulties conceiving as well in prior posts.

It really just doesn’t register with people that all actions have consequences.

Oh, forgot to add the IFS discussion on this topic.

https://ifstudies.org/blog/fertility-rates-delayed-marriage-and-infertility

I (Dr. McIlhaney) wrote in a 1998 book, “Gonorrhea and chlamydia are spreading like wildfire among young people in the United States. They are the most rapidly increasing cause of infertility in the United States.” I also noted, “Of women who are infertile, one-third have that problem because of damage to their fallopian tubes from one of these two sexually transmitted diseases.” (Damage to the fallopian tubes may prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg, or it may prevent a fertilized egg from traveling to the uterus and being implanted there.) Back then, statistics clearly showed that if the woman was experiencing infertility, such damage, caused by STDs, was the most likely reason.

The CDC confirms that the risk of STD-caused fallopian tube damage remains today—but now, it is only the second most common cause for a woman’s fertility problems. Problems of ovulation have taken over the top spot among reasons women struggle to become pregnant. Such problems can be caused by a fairly common disease called Polycystic Ovarian Disease (or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).

However, the social trends already noted also have biological implications. Today the median age of first marriage for women is over 28 years of age. The “median” age of first marriage means that half of all women marry for the first time when even older—with many not attempting pregnancy until well after age 30. Though we were concerned 20 years ago about delayed attempts at conception, those delays generally were not as long as they are today.

Delays in marriage until later in life do not simply reduce the number of years available for (marital) childbearing. They may make it more difficult to conceive in the first place.

Studies show that fertility begins dropping from age 30 on. More significant decline sets in later in the 30s. Many women’s ovarian responsiveness moves into the zone of what is now called POI (primary ovarian insufficiency), or “premature ovarian failure.” As POI develops, women have less chance of becoming pregnant without new reproductive technologies (which may be expensive, if they are even available for her). If her ovaries have become even more unresponsive, she will often not have an ovum (egg) that is fertile, or at times, she may have no ovum at all—and therefore, no chance of becoming pregnant without assistance.

So, STD-damaged fallopian tubes are no longer the number one cause of female infertility today. Among women, the number one issue preventing pregnancy is ovulation related. These problems of ovulation are overwhelmingly due to the delayed age at which women are attempting to become pregnant.

Sexual promiscuity promoted via feminism and delayed marriages for improving your career have consequences. Often disastrous ones in terms of infertility. No shortage of women struggling with it on my FB friends as well. Some have gone the route of IVF to varying success. 

Can’t buck God without paying the consequences.

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16 Responses to Geriatric pregnancy

  1. Elspeth says:

    Interesting, as our last two children were born when I was 35 and 37 respectively, and I never (no, not once) heard the term “geriatric pregnancy”. I definitely heard the term “advanced maternal age”, which was appropriate given that I was 23 and 24 when our first three were born.

    That said, my babies were perfectly healthy, and while I know many women who had babies after age 35, not a one of those kids had a birth defect or Down’s syndrome. So yes, the risk is increased, but the odds are still actually not that great that your baby will be somehow defective.

    There are plenty of couples who don’t do birth control and who continue to have healthy babies well into their 30s and 40s.

  2. Elspeth says:

    I should add that I see your overall point, by the way. Not arguing it, but wondering how common it is for any doctor to use the term “geriatric pregnancy”, particularly when so many women are having their first child in their 30s; for whatever reasons.

  3. rabbi vey says:

    “Polycystic Ovarian Disease”

    Who wants their disck rubbing against a bunch of cysts. Oy vey.

  4. @ Elspeth

    Interesting, as our last two children were born when I was 35 and 37 respectively, and I never (no, not once) heard the term “geriatric pregnancy”. I definitely heard the term “advanced maternal age”, which was appropriate given that I was 23 and 24 when our first three were born.

    I should add that I see your overall point, by the way. Not arguing it, but wondering how common it is for any doctor to use the term “geriatric pregnancy”, particularly when so many women are having their first child in their 30s; for whatever reasons.

    Most of these women were having their first at 35+, and a surprising number chimed in with with reports of geriatric pregnancy vs advanced maternal age. Like 75/25 ratio or somewhere around there.

    It’s a bit different to have your first at that age versus say 3rd or later. Risk goes up for 1st birth as age increases as well as having first kids later except a few things like down’s syndrome. Complications too. Most of these women had a c-section as well which has its own complications versus natural birth.

  5. feeriker says:

    I definitely heard the term “advanced maternal age”, which was appropriate given that I was 23 and 24 when our first three were born.

    That said, my babies were perfectly healthy, and while I know many women who had babies after age 35, not a one of those kids had a birth defect or Down’s syndrome.

    DS beat me to the punch in responding, but the point stands. Women having babies after 35 when they’ve already had children in their 20s reduces the risk of birth defects/Down Syndrome/other health issues. Many women miss (or more likely ignore) this in thinking that getting pregnant for the first time at age 39 (like my sister-in-law did) is as easy as doing so at 29, or even 19. (My SiL, by the way, delivered a healthy set of twin boys, something she and her husband never expected, by were overjoyed by. God does work miracle surprises sometimes, but I would NOT recommend women counting on this to justify “geriatric” pregnancies, especially first ones).

  6. cameron232 says:

    My wife had 4 early term losses in her early 40s before she had our youngest who is healthy. Our youngest son, born right before her 39th birthday is likely high functioning autistic.

  7. cameron232 says:

    She does have a friend who gave birth to twins at 47. We’re both closer to 50 than 40 so our odds of more aren’t great.

    Down’s Syndrome kids are a blessing. I remember being in the Orlando airport and watching a couple with a Downs teenage boy. They had bought him a Toy Story doll. “Mom, dad thank you for my doll I love him and I love you!” That from a teenager.

    I barely managed to get a reciprocated “I love you too” from my 11 year old after I made him an awesome double steak burger yesterday.

  8. thedeti says:

    What E didn’t mention is that she was in her early 20s when she gave birth to her first child.

    In general, for women, if you start early with childbearing, you can keep right on going well into your 30s having healthy children. This is why 100 years ago and before, women could bear five or more children. They got started in their early 20s and continued having children until their late 30s – many having children until their early 40s. Families with 4, 5, 6 kids were not uncommon.

  9. cameron232 says:

    From what I’ve read and from our experience Deti is right.

  10. Michael says:

    My wife has geriatric and grand multipara on her chart. When those terms are combined, it’s an honor. We’re blessed with the health both of her and of our children. and I agree that starting early (on time, really) has contributed to health.

    In general I find the whining of my peers about aging to be a sign of empty lives. They’ve made huge mistakes by not beginning anything significant except to earn money, and that wasn’t done to any particular end.

  11. Oscar says:

    @ DS

    It’s a bit different to have your first at that age versus say 3rd or later.

    This is true. My wife gave birth to our 5th bio-baby on month ago, at the age of 39. Labor went about as smoothly as something that painful can go, and our baby girl is perfectly healthy. I think earlier pregnancies, and breastfeeding, help keep the eggs fresh, since a woman’s cycle tends to get suspended by both.

    Once they get into their 40s, though, the risks start to compound. It’s not great for dads, either. I’m going to be in my 60s when our youngest graduates high school. I’d always hoped to live long enough to get to know all my grandchildren, and considering that my dad died at 86, that’s starting to look like a tall order.

    @ Cameron

    Our youngest son, born right before her 39th birthday is likely high functioning autistic.

    Autism runs in the men in my family, but then, so does engineering. It’s almost as though the two are related.

    Down’s Syndrome kids are a blessing. I remember being in the Orlando airport and watching a couple with a Downs teenage boy. They had bought him a Toy Story doll. “Mom, dad thank you for my doll I love him and I love you!” That from a teenager.

    Down’s Syndrome kids are the happiest people I’ve ever met.

  12. info says:

    Not only damage to their offspring. But to every offspring down the generations as well.

  13. locustsplease says:

    From what i have seen if a woman has children earlier they do better having them late. But if they think 20years of birth control stops and then get pregnant like a 17yo? No. Also geriatric pregnancy is hysterical. I would love to b a fly on that wall. My sister believed the lie i will just stop birth control in my 30s and bam ill b pregnant immediately. Wrong shes the first girl in my family to wait until 30 and the only one who has struggled from what i know.

    When she was younger i thought she would have been a great mom. However i have seen a long time since she graduated highschool she has become very self centered. The indulgence is sickening. She takes so many vacations that it makes me not want to take a vacation. A few years ago she tells me we are trying to get out of debt. What debt? U dont own a home graduated college a long time ago make great money and drive s**t box cars. It looks like god is answering her years of saying i dont want to b a mom with ok now your not gonna b a mom. Which is extremely fair.

  14. @Cameron232 Funny you mention the autism thing. My mom had me at 39 and wouldn’t you know it I’m high-functioning autistic. Thank god I didn’t get hit any harder with the autism stick than I was. I’m “passing” now, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any problems because of autism. As a side note, I had several friends on the spectrum when I was in college and the one common denominator between them all was their moms had them all late.

    Scares me to death because in my case it’s genetic and it’s looking like I won’t be getting married until my mid-30s at the earliest!

  15. cameron232 says:

    Hi yvaN,

    Interesting, I was 39 and my wife 38 when he was born. My daughter, born in our 40s is fine.

  16. cameron232 says:

    And my autisticish boy is a very sweet boy.

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