|Getting older ain’t what it used to be, with some now calling 40 the new 30 or even 20. However, the nips and tucks that may be effective in taking years off of a woman’s outward appearance are pointless in terms of turning back the dial on a woman’s internal biological clock.
Did you know that by the age of 40, only two out of five women who wish to conceive without assistance are able to do so? This is just one of many reasons why more and more young women in their 20s are undergoing regular fertility check ups.
Take, for example, Caitlin Wilkinson and Hannah Johnson, two average 20-somethings who both enjoying playing pool. However, they also have something else in common. They’ve both already had fertility checkups.
“My mom has a history of some infertility issues so I always knew that could be something I could face,” said Johnson.
Wilkinson explained, “I have always had very irregular periods and I never knew how that was going to play out in the future.”
Seeking answers to their questions, the young women both underwent fertility awareness checkups, which includes having an ultrasound to measure the ovary health and egg supply.
“When we do an ultrasound, we see that the ovary gets smaller as the woman gets older and the number of little follicles decrease,” said Eve Feinberg, M.D., a fertility specialist with both the Fertility Centers of Illinois and NorthShore University Health System.
The check up also evaluates the blood levels of two key fertility hormones. “We look at follicle stimulating hormone and we want that level to be low. And then we look at AMH or Anti-Malarian Hormone and we want that level to be high,” said Dr. Feinberg.
The number of fertility check ups performed by the Fertility Centers of Illinois has increased by a whopping 1,500%, jumping from just 40 in 2012 to 600 last year. Though the majority of women still wait until their mid-30s — when egg quantities naturally begin to decline — to have a fertility checkup done, doctors say this is beginning to change.
For only $90, the test provides young women with invaluable information in regards to their reproductive health. The fertility awareness checkup also includes a semen analysis for men.
“As the word has gotten out about the success and viability of egg freezing, we’re starting to see more and more younger women coming in to check their fertility potential,” said Dr. Feinberg.
Though Caitlin Wilkinson’s test came back normal, Hannah Johnson’s blood test revealed very low levels of AMH. “When you have a lower level, there’s a potential you could go into menopause earlier or have troubles with fertility,” Johnson explained.
As a result, Johnson and her husband decide to create and freeze embryos as a means of security of security for the future.
“I thought it would be a great sort of security blanket or insurance policy to have them. So I feel really lucky that I learned about this and was able to be proactive about my health,” Johnson said.
Doctors hope cases like Johnson’s will inspire other young women to look at their fertility and explore options while time is still on their side.