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You Can’t Wish Away the Fertility Gap

There's no gender difference bigger than this one, and we ignore it at our peril.

by
Bonnie Ramthun

Bio

March 26, 2014 - 3:00 pm
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Jill Knapp begs us to “Please Stop Asking Me When I’m Going to Have Children.”

Being that I am still a newly-wed and have just moved to a new city, I am in no rush to have a kid. This is an unacceptable answer to a lot of people. The constant reminders that your clock is ticking and that you don’t want to be confused for your child’s grandparents when they grow up are not making us move any faster. Having children is a big responsibility.

What Jill doesn’t understand is that her fertility is not subject to whim or wishful thinking. Her chances of getting pregnant decline rapidly after 30. By age 40, less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception. When the Jills of this world decide they want children at 36 or 38 or 42, they enter a long, often fruitless quest for safe pregnancy and childbirth.

shutterstock_183773678

Men achieve fertility at 12 years old and can father children all the way to 96. Women have a narrow fertility window of around 16 to 40. That’s a fertility gap of up to fifty years!

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Top Rated Comments   
"That’s male thinking."
This is very astute remark. So much of so-called feminism is based on male thinking. Disliking the options for women and wanting to improve them, feminists decided that the male model was what women needed, that the differences were spurious and that the culture must be changed. The kicker is the way they did that - by acting not like men but like pampered women or spoiled brats, if you prefer.
Next time, you watch a movie in which, within minutes of the couple's eyes meeting, they are tearing off their clothes and having at it (male thinking at its most fundamental) think back to those movies of the forties and fifties and how feminine the women were and how slowly they committed.
We've come a long way, baby.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've read some articles out there about women 50 or 60 having fertility treatments to get pregnant and have a kid. Single too. ANd I thought how selfish they were. What about the kid? Very high probability of birth defect. Then what? A 60 year old raising a kid? Oh what fun for the kid. Then she keels over at 72 and you have a 12 year old orphan. Great. Or the mother has to deal with - say - a 16 year old girl with no father figure and daddy issues when she is 76?

Oh... That goes for people like Elton John too.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Men can father healthy babies well into their fifties and sixties. (The article I linked has a healthy baby born to a man who is 96!) Women are going off the fertility cliff by age 35. That's the gap. My generation was brought up to believe that "men and women are no different!" Yes we are.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (74)
All Comments   (74)
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This is totally a chick issue. Who cares?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
My (old age and pre pill)observation of the current sexual freedom. shows a lot of sexual diseases from which gynocologists profit but with those diseases often comes infertility.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jean Twenge wrote an interesting article in The Atlantic last year that questioned the idea that 35 is a fertility cliff: if 78-82% of women 35-39 get pregnant naturally within a year, compared with 84-86% of women under 35, well, that's not much of a cliff.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
One thing that doesn't seem to get much attention or discussion is something we observed first with blacks and are now seeing with whites: women being more employable.

Particularly in The South, black females had much more opportunity for steady, year-round wage work than black men, who were mostly agricultural or construction laborers. Southern black society in many ways replicated Southern white society after the Civil War as it became very much a matriarchy. The analog to the Steel Magnolia was the black "Mama" who ruled her house and her often unruly man.

To tie this together, beginning in the '60s it became acceptable and common for white guys to live off a woman. The whole notion of a man waiting until he had some semblance of economic security, preferably economic substance, before even thinking of taking a wife disappeared, and it disappeared for both genders. A generation before a layabout man whose wife was forced to seek wage work was condemned by all. By the '70s it was almost the norm; a man might be able to find a better paying job than a woman, but a woman could more readily find a job.

The older, say ten years or so, man and the younger woman was common in the past; he marrying in his late twenties or early thirties, she in her late teens or early twenties. Interestingly, that is about the pattern for second marriages today. You married a high school or college sweetheart or a first job coworker, had a kid or two; she was too often the responsible one while you tried to grow up. Sometime in her late twenties, the alarm clock went off; he was always going to be a layabout or an a**hole, so she divorced him and started looking for the guy who could afford braces for those kids. Don't ask me how I know!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I came across this interesting bit of information a couple of days ago.
John Tyler, our 10th president who was born in 1790, when George Washington was president, has two living grandchildren.
Lyon Gardner Tyler Jr. and Harrison Gardner Tyler, both born in the 1920's, are the sons of Lyon Gardner Tyler, John Tyler's 13th child who was born in 1853. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/tylergrandsons.asp
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
America's age is only three lifetimes.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Less than 5 out of every 100 women will be successful at conception"

Yeah...that statement is worthy of the New York Times in terms of accuracy. It is "technically accurate" in that the statistic is correct PER CYCLE. Which means a hell of a lot more than 5% of the women who try are going to get pregnant.

I don't know what the hell your agenda is, but my wife and I married late because we found each other late. We didn't do a damn "starter marriage" in our 20s and leave two broken homes in our wake. We tried to find the right person and FINALLY did. Now, after a lifetime of responsibility we are trying diligently for the child that neither of us could morally have had one day earlier. Our physician assures us that our chances are excellent and this is the fastest growing part of his practice.

If my wife had read this she would have done as I did and followed the link (and that at least moves you from the evil to irresponsible) column, but she would have been crying while she did it.

Get your facts STRAIGHT before you so drastically misrepresent them.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
" If women want to be mothers, they have to start thinking like women and stop acting like men."

Or perpetually adolescent girls.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
So then using Cosmo for a guide to life hasn't worked out so well for women. Who would have thunk it?

Home-school your children keep them away from the indoctrination of the government.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, and sadly, the indoctrination of most evangelical Christian churches. Their attitudes toward motherhood are not very much different from the pagans around us.

38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Zero sympathy here for women who prefer nonsensical ideology -- children as a a lifestyle choice, to occur on demand when a woman decides she's done partying, or done with some other lifestyle choice -- over a sober awareness of their own biology. This is the same delusion that has educated women doing Sl*t Walks in their 20's and then raising their hands at 35 and saying, "I'm ready! Now marry me! Wait! Where are all the good men?!!!?"

I value Paglia, but at least in the cohort of females that can graduate from high school (IQ > 80), if they don't know that their fertility window is finite, and if they don't know its declination is driven by time, and when it is no longer reasonably reliable, they're not smart enough to be parents anyway.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, starter marriages with two or three kids and broken homes are great. Sometimes a good marriage takes time.

While I agree with you in principle, some people aren't "waiting" so much as not making a mistake.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bitter much?
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
I had my twins when I was 35. I am so happy I waited. My husband and I were able to get 10 years of marriage in where we got to enjoy each other and make sure his career was well established. Now that my twins are 3 1/2 I am going back to school part time, working one day a week, and a city council member. I guess "male thinking" must just work for me and my family...who would have thought.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's always cute when some female barks, "Look at me, I'm the exception. So see, nyah nyah, you should base policy on what I did." Or barks something semantically equivalent to that. Oh Genenaiive, way to go, grrl!
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
By waiting, you gambled that your fertility would still be there when you wanted it. You won the gamble. Between 35 and 38, women's fertility drops significantly, with around a quarter of women unable to get pregnant naturally by age 38. I'm glad you're happy with your life, but your "thinking" (be it male or female in nature) is not going to work out so well for everyone else out there.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment

We waited until my wife was 32, I was 34. True about the career, 10 years of marriage, etc.

Also true that by the time my son was ready for basketball I was almost 50 and just couldn't get around on the court with him. Ditto baseball and all the rest.

And my first grandson came along when I was 65... .

There are trade offs.


38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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