Take charge of your fertility

Jun 24, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Women think they can have it all, that they can wait and decide when the time is right to start a family — but they're wrong. Time truly is of the essence.

Woman with a pregnancy test

I talk about my infertility struggles with anyone who will listen and I have even encouraged my younger sister to freeze her eggs!

I don't know about your sex education class, but infertility was not a topic covered in mine — probably because the primary message at the time was all about abstinence and methods for not getting pregnant.

Words of wisdom

When I had my annual female exam at age 30, just after my first wedding, I wish I had listened when my doctor said that my new husband and I should start seriously discussing our family planning. In hindsight, I'm beyond relieved that I never had children with my first husband. Looking back, however, it was the first time that I was made aware of my biological clock. I left his office irritated by the statistics he shared suggesting that a woman's fertility and ability to conceive begin to decrease around the age of 30.

Foolishly I believed that once you removed the goalie, so to speak, and engaged in unprotected sex about two weeks from the first day of your last period, you got pregnant. And for some very fortunate few, that's exactly how it happens. For others, it can take a while.

A long while.

Should you freeze your eggs?

A recent article in Glamour magazine about freezing your eggs prompted a candid discussion with my 29-year-old sister. She is single and has seen firsthand the struggles my husband and I have encountered trying to conceive a second child.

With my urging, she has talked to her gynecologist and is getting a full fertility evaluation, which includes (among other tests) collecting a complete physical, medical and sexual history as well as a hysterosalpingogram, an X-ray of the fallopian tubes and uterus. We have also discussed egg freezing and — even though there is no guarantee that a baby will result from egg freezing — her 29-year-old eggs have a much better shot at becoming embryos than they will at 40.

As we grow and change, so will our decisions. It's always tempting to look back and think we should have taken a more direct path or to believe that we would have done something differently. But it's really no use playing the "what I wish I knew then" game. I am a different person today than I was then, and became the person I am now because of my experiences and by not knowing then what I know now. There's no sense in beating myself up. I accept my path. I accept my secondary infertility, but that isn't going to stop me from discussing this disease with family and friends and making them think about their fertility.

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