Tennis star Serena Williams made the announcement in early August in a text she wrote for the magazine Vogue magazineIt will end his career. She wants her family to grow. Her daughter Olympia was born at the age of 35. She will celebrate her 41st birthday in a few weeks and has hinted that she would like a second child. At the same time, she explained that the thought of the end of a successful career was painful for her. “If I were a man,” she wrote, “I would continue to win while my wife worked to grow the family.”
In the first episode of Meghan Markle’s new podcast, The Originals, she also admitted that she’s been putting off motherhood for as long as possible. “I want our family to grow, but I’ve been putting it off as much as possible. But as a woman, I only have a limited amount of time to put it off while the guys are still playing,” she said.
Nineteen or twenty seven? Doctors’ opinions differ slightly
Williams touched on the general trend of couples delaying parenthood until later in life. The mean age of a woman at birth according to the data Czech Statistical Office Between 1950 and 2020, it increased from 27.3 years to 30.2. At the same time, maternal age appears to be increasing but with different fluctuations. In the Czech Republic, the average maternal age at birth after World War II was as high as it was at the beginning of this millennium, although this is probably due to the post-war baby boom and the fact that women in general had more children.
In the intervening half-century, maternal age decreased and then increased again. Company data for this year Aperitif Then it turns out that the average age of first-time mothers has fallen from 30.7 years to 28.8 years in the past five years. Mothers were so far the oldest in 2017, and since then their ages have been decreasing, albeit with significant regional differences. Women in Prague delay motherhood longer, on the contrary, give birth first in the Moravian-Silesian regions, Usti and Karlovy Vary.
Delayed parenting worries doctors. For example, gynecologist Joseph Polkert wrote on Twitter some time ago that from a physiological point of view, the optimal age for childbirth is 19-23 years. However, psychiatrist Helena Maslova is not very strict and states that a person is at the peak of his physical fitness at the age of twenty-four. According to her, a decade of twenty to thirty years is ideal. Gynecologist Jana Daňková Kučerová from the Reprofit Reproductive Clinic in Brno believes that there is a transformation and that the body is more mature at the age of 27 or 28.
While women who delay motherhood often face moral comments, this is not the case for men. According to Maslova, their fertility is also declining, but much more slowly. “After the age of 36, there is a somewhat noticeable decrease in women, especially in the case of estrogen. It is also better for the body if a woman gives birth younger, because the tissues are more elastic and regenerate. Better after childbirth. The body is stronger and better able to deal with the consequences of childbirth. With age, the risks of surgical delivery and complications, both on the part of the child and the mother, also increase.
Dykova Kozyrova notes that the risks of delayed parenting affect men 50 and older. “This is due to the fact that spermatogenesis (Sperm production – ed note.) It persists throughout life and the sperm is constantly renewed, every three months the man has a new brand. Apparently, nature gave men the opportunity to reproduce to a later age, while limiting the time for women. She explains that a woman already has a full number of eggs at birth and only grows older,” adding that the risk of uterine diseases, such as myoma, which is a benign cancer, increases with age.
Thanks to later parenting, there are fewer unwanted children
Texts with defamatory titles such as “Elder Mother” appear regularly in the media. However, they rarely look for the real reasons for delaying parenthood. Women are often accused of prioritizing their career over family life. Anthropologist Jack Goody already wrote in his book Changes in the Family in 2006 that the reason for postponing paternity is, among other things, high housing costs. Thus, the couple works for a longer period before conception so that the family can maintain its standard of living.
Furthermore, more educated women have legitimate concerns about their careers. Today, women get more college education than men, and in 2020 women made up 56 percent of all students and 60 percent of college graduates. However, they are still seen as primary caregivers, at the same time often staying at home with the child for the entire three years. While men can look forward to a so-called paternity bonus on their payroll, because employers are more willing to better categorize them as “breadwinners,” women are punished for motherhood at work, not just financially.
Although the health risks associated with late motherhood cannot be ignored, some authors consider postponing paternity to be responsible. Sociologist Ladislav Rabošić in his book Where are all the children? Fertility from a social perspective states that thanks to this, a greater part of the children are wanted and planned. In developed countries, such as the United States, the number of unwanted pregnancies is declining, although 40 percent of babies worldwide are still born unplanned.
However, the reason for delayed motherhood can be that the woman simply does not have a suitable partner. Daňková Kučerová explains that due to the search for a perfect match, women wanting to have children often come up late with requests for egg freezing. “At 30 to 32, when it’s ideal, they hope to find a suitable partner and don’t need cryopreservation. Then they’re about 40, at which point we usually have a big problem with eggs,” he says, adding that freezing the eggs would have taken the Consider women in their thirties, when they have concerns other than motherhood.
Freeze as a precaution
In the Anglo-Saxon environment, the term social freezing was used for the preventive freezing of eggs and sperm. Apple or Facebook offer keep eggs as a business advantage to support female employees in their careers while not denying them the opportunity to start a family. daily Conversation He writes about the procedure that although reproductive clinics tout it as a way to “stop the biological clock,” it’s relatively expensive and a lottery bet than a sure thing. Affordable women in their thirties with a higher education often turn to him, the most common reason being the one mentioned by Daňková Kučerová – the lack of a suitable partner.
According to the gynecologist, cryopreservation methods have improved in recent years. “Just five years ago, the chance of getting a high-quality embryo after thawing was much lower. Today, we work with them a lot,” he says. It shows that frozen eggs have an almost unlimited shelf life because they are stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of less than 96 degrees.
But Máslova’s attitude toward cryopreservation is more tepid. “Everyone has to make their own destiny and find their own way. I wouldn’t myself see egg freezing as an option because cryopreservation has unwanted side effects and I think it’s better to get pregnant the way nature designed it. But I can imagine there is no other way for someone And that’s okay.”
At the same time, she is convinced that pregnancy should naturally result from the dynamics of the relationship. “The phrase trying to conceive is completely undesirable for me. Pregnancy must naturally result from a situation that is the intersection of biological, psychological and social predisposition, and of course the so-called love. It is quite unfortunate that a woman becomes pregnant so soon after meeting, because a phase of Getting to know the mutual partner’s world. Then there is a phase of sexual fascination, at the climax of which pregnancy is perfect. Once this is delayed, the body’s fertile preparations for conception begin to decline.”
IVF up to 49 years only
No matter what couples decide to do in terms of family planning, they should take into account that assisted reproduction in the Czech Republic is carried out up to the age of 49, so frozen eggs or sperm must be used by this time. As of this year, the insurance company contributes IVF for up to 40 years, down from a year earlier. Daňková Kučerová explains that up to age 35, chances are still relatively good and doctors can help about 70 to 80 percent of couples. “Up to the age of 30, we do an excellent job, and from 30 to 35 we also have a very good success rate. Over 35, we really struggle a little, and over 40 it is very difficult. If a couple really wants as a child, they often have to provide some kind of compromises, for example a donated egg or sperm,” he warns.
According to her, spouses are often unaware of this because of celebrities who show how easily they became parents even before the age of 50. “But no one knows how they got pregnant,” he says. “Then women think they can get pregnant at 45, which is really not a fact.” He concludes, “Unfortunately, nature cannot react so quickly to social changes.”