No matter which issue related to getting pregnant after 35 is discussed: how long should a couple keep trying before visiting a specialist, how to track ovulation, or which foods help to get pregnant – it was only about a dozen of times or less that I’ve been approached by MEN (and almost all belonged to the extended circle of my friends). Basically, it is always WOMEN who want to talk about these issues and who feel that they bear the load of both fertility and infertility in the partnership.
Cross-cultural assumptions in this regard seem to be clear:
- Women tend to take the entire load of reproduction on their own back. This starts with getting pregnant, surfing the labour contractions, going though the years of lactation (as well as years of sleep deprivation so severe that I am reluctant to write about it for those at the beginning of the process of becoming a mother!) Especially if getting pregnant takes a long time, impatience can start to become so enormous, that planning around pregnancy overruns all other activities. Finally, life becomes like a tunnel, in which at some point things from the environment disappear or become irrelevant, and what counts becomes only the light at the end, the light of becoming a mother.
- When a woman gets pregnant, her partner gets a credit. When a woman does NOT get pregnant, she typically assumes it is her fault. But when she does, it suddenly becomes her partner’s credit! In the academic sense, this behaviour is justified as it increases bonding of father towards the child and encourages his trust that the offspring genetically belongs to him; still, I find it almost funny to watch in how many modern Western societies women readilly and enthousiastically pursue this role game.
- Reproductive responsibility lies on a women. Although male fertility is almost as common as female infertility, women are much more likely to make a first move and visit a specialist and there are far more technologies and methods focused on treating women than men. To this, many women over 35 know surprisingly little about the limits of their own reproductive systems?! Although they may be aware that fertility decreases with age, many still tend to overestimate their chances to get pregnant and have a healthy baby at that age, or simply ignore the facts on their biological clock and how quickly it advances.
Men don’t have any of this. On the top, they don’t hesitate to be very curious or even directly intervene into whatever is going on in the uterus of women they are interested in, don’t you think so?
It is not difficult to understand men in this regard. Just like you and me, they want to have children (most of them at least). The only difference is that men can’t become biological parents unless they manage to make at least one woman pregnant at least one time.
This is why reproductive system of women is attractive to them to the point of obsessing about it. As a mother, you always know if baby came out of your belly; fatherhood on the other side can never be that certain. If I were a man, I would also feel uneasy about that.
Throughout the written history (and much before that!), man had always intervened and will continue to do so with just about anything that even remotely touching on women’s ability to get pregnant. Whether it is genitals of her lover, her rights to abortion, or even harmless intake of vitamin supplements which support fertility – whatever the thing affecting what is going on in woman’s uterus, men and men-led organizations will always feel they have something to say or even decide on it. It does not really matter whether the woman in question is their own, or they have any real understanding of the organs which they don’t possess, or even if they have sex at all. Men will understandably always intervene and try to push their genetic agenda though. Which is fine from the evolutionary point of view and on one higher level (which has nothing with you getting pregnant), it actually contributes to the better survival of the species. I think that women should be more aware of the nature of this conflict of reproductive interests and decide for themselves how much they want to be considerate about it.
My favorite books about fertility and getting pregnant: