Experts Don't Think Your Eggs Work Like They Think You Think They Work

We're pretty sure Oprah blew the lid off this topic years ago, but apparently there are plenty of women who still don't realize that it's harder to get pregnant in your 40s. And it's a real mindfuck, you see, because some women who look 10 years younger than they really are, thanks to cosmetic procedures — are then these ladies are very surprised to find that their ovaries don't care what their face looks like. Your womb knows how old and crusty you really are!

Melissa Foss, 41, has gone through two rounds of in vitro fertiliation, and tells the New York Times that she never thought she'd have these issues because "my hair was shiny, my teeth were white and my complexion clear," and those are indicators of fertility. 45-year-old Fruzsina Keehn, who's tried to conceive via in vitro eight times in the past two years, adds, "Everyone in my life told me how young I looked for my age ... I assumed it was the same on the inside as it was on the outside."

As is the case with, oh, anything, celebrities are supposedly to blame for this predicament — even those who aren't necessarily trying to have a baby. There are dozens of female celebrities who conceived after 40, including Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, and Salma Hayek, but as usual, the womb that deserves the most scrutiny is Jennifer Aniston's. The Times recaps the last few weeks of tabloid rumors about 42-year-old Aniston carrying the spawn of Janthrax, and notes that she's made her intention to have a children well-known (uh, becase that's basicaly all anyone asks her about). Aniston's so-called "baby dreams" annoy doctors because much like the influential Rachel hairstyle, the idea that one can always conceive naturally after 40 is sweeping the nation. She's also ticked off Judith Newman, who wrote a book about undergoing years of fertility treatments, eventually conceving twins at 40.

"If Jennifer Aniston said, ‘I want to have children by any means,' it would be fine, but I don't think she ever says that," said Ms. Newman, a journalist who recalls interviewing a well-known 40-something pop star who had just given birth to twins. "She kept insisting that she'd had them naturally. I wanted to reach over the table and throttle her."

We're not sure who Newman, a journalist who coincidentally interviewed Jennifer Lopez for Allure last year (ahem), could be talking about! But she's not being all that fair. Is Aniston supposed to say in every interview, "I'd like to have babies ... but I'm super-old now so I may need to do numerous rounds of IVF. And even then there's a good chance that I won't be able to conceive, so don't follow in my miserable, lonely footsteps, ladies!"

It is somewhat misleading that so many celebrities in their 40s insist they conceived naturally (and maybe some of them did), but they aren't obligated to divulge their medical history for the public good. Plus, common sense would dictate that celebrity behavior isn't the main reason women are starting to try for a baby later in life. The Times makes it sound like women who put off having kids are just silly and uninformed. In general, women aren't simply forgetting to have kids by the time they're 40 and, in the meantime, are assuming that all is well because their hair is shiny. Many women wisely don't want to have a child until there's some stability in their life, and they may not be in a relationship, career, or mindset that's conducive to baby-making until they're past 40.

Celebrities may make conceiving later in life look all too easy, but the vast majority of women are well aware that the older they get, the more difficult it will be. After all, it's hard to forget this fact when every few months there's a new judgmental and patronizing story about the stupidity of women who wait.

Are You as Fertile as You Look? [NYT]

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