Lately there’s been some discussion on Blush about fertility, and what it means for millennials. We hear about friends having a difficult time achieving pregnancy, celebrities undergoing IVF, and other complications that can come up down the road. But when is it too early to worry about it for ourselves? It’s a tough question to answer, which is why we have enlisted fertility expert Tiffany Hallgren to share some wisdom about fertility and the millennial girl!
First just to get some clarification, the Millennial generation (Gen Y) was born between 1982 and 2000. We are most known for the advances in technology, creative career paths, and loads of education. In fact, we are the most educated generation in American history – which is prettayyyyy cool.
But, because we are so educated and do put a major emphasis on our jobs, many millennials struggle to figure out how to juggle starting a family with our time consuming careers. This is where Tiffany comes in. We have asked her a few questions that you may be asking yourselves…and she’s got all the answers. Here is what you should know about millennials and fertility.
Interview: Millennials and Fertility
Blush: Tiffany! Thanks so much for participating in this interview. We know plenty of women around the world are curious about this topic, and we’re glad to have an expert shed some light on fertility.
Tiffany Hallgren: Of course! So happy to help.
B: So, our first question is for all of our clients. We have plenty of millennials who contemplate fertility, but aren’t sure when to actually worry about it. So, if I’m a young millennial…am I overestimating my fertility?
TH: Generation Y women (age 25 to 35) typically think a 30 year old woman has a 70% chance of conceiving per month, and that a 40 year old is close to a 60% chance per month (Fertility IQ 2011 Survey, 1,000 women). However, this has shown to not be as accurate. Many women were wrong on how long it takes to get pregnant, and about how fertility declines at various ages. It can easily take up to a year for a 30 or 40 something to get pregnant, and some need fertility treatment in order to be able to have a biological child. It is not clear why millennials overestimate their fertility, but possible explanations are: Many millennials ignore or confuse the disconnect between general health and ovarian aging. Women can be very healthy, but have very few eggs remaining in the ovary.  Media tends to celebrate older high profile and celebrity births in mid 40s.  Many women do not share their journey with successful fertility treatments, and younger millennials are unaware of their aide for mothers in their 30’s or 40’s.
B: Is it common for millennial women to feel anxious about fertility?
TH: Sure! Perceived infertility is the individual’s belief that she or he is unable to conceive or impregnate, regardless of whether this belief is medically accurate. Overall, 19% of women believed that they were very likely to be infertile, according to a Gutmacher institute 2012 survey of 1,800 unmarried men and women aged 18–29. However it is completely normal to wonder and have anxious feelings about your future fertility.
B: Where are other millennials at in their “relationship status”? Is it normal to think we are behind in terms of finding a life partner?
TH: Well, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data, only 22% of Millennial women are married. The median age of first marriage for Gen Y women is 26.5 years and for men 28.7. Currently, there are more unmarried women in their early 30s than at any time in the last 60 years in the US. So although it may feel like you are falling behind, it’s actually normal to put off finding a committed relationship well into our 30’s!
B: Some girls may worry that living with their partner could affect future fertility plans. What are your thoughts on this?
TH: Delay in bearing a child remains true even after cohabitation and other adult living arrangements are considered. The gap between first sex and first birth is 9+ years for Gen Y and 3+ years for Gen X. So that means even if you are living with your partner, it could still be a few years until you two decide to start a family.
B: What are some options for millennial women finding out about fertility?
TH: There are many options when it comes to finding out about your fertility and preservation!
An evaluation of your ovarian reserve causes no harm to your reproductive health. Some women, though very young, do have a diminished ovarian reserve (less viable eggs) to the extent that delay of seeking fertility treatment is detrimental to there ability to conceiving a biological child.
It’s also important to note that delaying childbearing does not mean ignoring fertility for an undefined period. Many options can be exercised to preserve fertility, including lifestyle modifications, egg freezing and embryo freezing. Many women in their 20’s and 30’s are choosing to freeze their eggs so that they can continue to pursue their career and find a compatible spouse without sacrificing their fertility. The process does not hinder future reproductive abilities, and is a one time procedure.
B: Fascinating. I’d love to ask you more about these options. You mentioned lifestyle modifications – what do you mean, specifically?
TH: There are a few simple changes that can improve fertility, and overall health: Take a daily multivitamin for women, that includes folic acid. Many doctors agree that folic acid improves fertility by stimulating the ovulation process.
 Stay active! Many medical studies have found that women who exercise for 30 minutes a day, had a lower infertility rate.
 Keep a healthy weight. This one will vary based on body type, but using a BMI calculator is a good indicator if you are in a healthy zone. ASRM guidelines suggest a healthy BMI for reproduction ranges from 18-29.
 Cut down the caffeine! We have all heard the effects that caffeine can have on one’s health, so add this to the list! Studies have found that caffeine may have a link to endometriosis. We’re not saying quit coffee, just enjoy in moderation!
 Practice safe sex. This is one many of us don’t want to talk about, but doctors claim that contracting chlamydia or syphilis can be damaging to your fertility. Getting tested and using protection are both great ways to make sure you are staying safe!
B: Good to know. So what about egg freezing? How does that even work?
TH: Egg freezing is a streamlined process, that is very similar to IVF. The process takes about 10-14 days and entails giving yourself daily injectable medications that stimulate your ovaries and going to your clinic for monitoring of your hormone levels and growth in you egg follicles (using ultrasounds and blood tests). Once you are ready to retrieve, you will be placed under a deep sedation and the eggs are aspirated non-invasively(no cutting or stitching!) . Once the eggs are retrieved, they would then be frozen to use at a later time via IVF.
B: At what age should any millennial female consider freezing her eggs?
TH: Most doctors recommend mid 20s to early 30s to freeze your eggs. It is great to consider and handle freezing your eggs as you would an investment. The younger you are when you freeze, you are most likely healthier and freezing quality eggs that will aid in a positive outcome in the future.
B: Good to know. So what about embryo freezing? What is the difference between that and egg freezing?
TH: Egg freezing is the process in which you freeze your eggs, and those eggs can then be fertilized when you find “the one” or are ready to take on pregnancy and parenthood process! Embryo freezing is when you fertilize the eggs before storage. Embryo storage is a good options for committed couples or individuals, who are not ready to start the family building process just yet.
B: What is the cost associated for the retrieval and storage?
TH: Today more and more companies are covering the cost for employees to freeze their eggs. If you are one of those lucky individuals, I highly encourage you to take advantage of that opportunity. There are also insurance plans that cover infertility, which would also cover the egg freezing process. If you do not have coverage, egg freezing can range from $8,000 to $12,00 depending on the clinic you select. Storage of your frozen eggs or embryos is also a cost that ranges from $200 a year to $600 a year, depending on where you store your eggs or embryos.
Want to learn more about fertility?
Tiffany has been kind enough to give out her email address for any of you who are curious about the process. Feel free to shoot her a note at email@example.com and mention this Blush blog, and she will get back to you!
In the mean time, make sure you are discussing any and all fears you have about fertility with your Blush coach. We are here for you to talk out any stressors, anxiety, or questions you may have.
Comment below and let us know – what is your take on egg freezing?