The Internet is full of half-information on biological clocks ticking away the last minutes of child-bearing years.
In terms of biology, if this problem were real, women would have evolved physiological mechanisms to help them capitalize on their remaining fertility. In other words, nature must have helped us to develop mechanisms to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant before menopause occurs and the conception becomes improbable.
The team around J.A.Easton PhD from the University of Texas at Austin hypothesized that women advanced reproductive age (for simplicity reasons, I will refer to this group as women over 35, though the exact age may individually vary) experience increased sexual motivations and sexual desires compared to younger women.
In other words, that women with declining fertility think more about sex, have more frequent and intense sexual fantasies, and are more willing to engage in sexual intercouse.
If true, should this adaptation apply to all women, or only those who wish to get pregnant?
According to the authors of the study published in Personality and Individual Differences, yes. High rate of infant mortality in ancestral populations suggests that there would have been no guarantee that existing children would survive to adult age and therefore getting pregnant and having a new baby would have been benefitial for all women, regardless of whether they already had children or not. For that reason, women’s psychology will continue to motivate them to try to get pregnant until menopause.
So which changes and motivations in behaviour have women developed to help them maximize their fertility and make the most out of their remaining eggs?
The research shows, women over 35 feel more motivated to engage in sexual intercourse, increasing opportunities for conceptition to take place.
This may occure even if women are not consciously aware of their intentions, though most women will notice that they think about sexual activities more often. The same applies to women in a relationship: those over 35 who are experiencing a decline if fertility may suddenly start seeking a partner other then the current one. Even women who were not prone to cheating, in their last reproductive years may more easily get attached to a partner different then the current one. Someone who has “better genes” to offer, or looks like a higher quality mate, even if only for a short period of time. Such “reproduction expediting” includes one-night stands and adventurous bedroom behavior, the study shows.
A total number of 827 women were recruited for the online survey, ages ranging from 18 to 65. Some were in the relationship, some were not, the number of children varied from one to two or more. Women took about 45 minutes to complete questions on their sex life, intensity of sexual fantasies, and willingness to engage in sexual intercourse.
It turned out that women over 35 spend more time thinking about sex then younger women and their sexual fantasies were also more intense. Now comes the part that surprised me and gave me a strange feeling of being a puppet on a string of evolution: younger women fantasize more about their current partner. However, women over 35, meaning those with a fewer eggs left, fantasized equally about both their current partner and other lovers!? In other words, women over 35 are willing to compromise their relationship, only if that increases the chance of getting pregnant.
What can I say? It may not be a cliche that most cliches are true?
No wonder that mothers insist on younger wives for their sons: apart for bringing more and higher quality eggs, young brides tend to be less promiscuous, too.
Are there alternative explanations, any hope that resarchers have omitted something really important?
Wait: one could think that findings may reflect the fact that enhanced sexuality in women over 35 reflects increasing sexual experience in this group and has nothing to do with decreasing fertility?
The analysis of the group of menopausal women (who have most sexual experience of all age groups) has shown that those women constantly displayed decreased sexual fantasies and behaviours. In other words, sexual drive tends to dissapear with dissapearing eggs.
But what were the most common fantasies in women over 35? According to Cosmopolitan (and in accordance to study results), many women love the idea of meeting up with a total stranger. Or even more of them – group sex was a very popular fantasy among the ladies.
This time, results in science and in real life came to the same conclusion: women with fewer eggs left have increased sexual activities, even when only in the form of fantasies, then do younger women with high fertility. Our biological clocks affect our daily lives strongest after the age of 35, to facilitate getting pregnant before the window of opportunity for ever closes.
To be sure when you ovulate:
(I love simple LH-strips but some women prefer digital measuring):
Lubricant (swimmer-friendly and not sticky) and early-response pregnancy tests:
Useful books about fertility and improving egg quality: