Doctors talk to more women about waning fertility

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- More women than ever before are putting off having children.  So doctors are including talk about fertility in check-ups.

Makeba Williams can't imagine not having her two children, two-month old Shelby and two-year-old D.J.  But after she married in her late twenties and started a demanding career, having children wasn't top of mind.  She wasn't even thinking about her diminishing fertility as she got into her thirties.

"Not a conscious effort or conscious thought that I needed to get myself together and get in gear," she says.

That's even though she's Dr. Williams, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Menorah Medical Center.  Her ob/gyn, Dr. Brenda Lofton, helped her get in gear.  Dr. Lofton routinely brings up the subject of waning fertility now.

"People you would expect to have these thoughts in their mind, and they don't necessarily even think about it.  So we end up being pretty forceful with patients saying what are your plans," says Dr. Lofton.

Then Dr. Lofton gives them the facts of fertility.  Stunning to some.  A woman at age 30 has a 20 percent chance each month of getting pregnant.  But by age 40, it's five percent each month.

"You just don't have those eggs available that you did when you were in your twenties," says Dr. Williams.

There's also discussion of the increasing risks with age for everything from diabetes in mom to down syndrome in baby.

"Many more pregnancy complications than the patient who's 25 to 29," says Dr. Lofton.

Dr. Williams feels fortunate that she didn't have trouble conceiving at age 35 and again at age 37.

"Because I will tell you for many, many of my patients, it does not happen," says Dr. Williams.

The doctors say women need to understand if they want it to happen, sooner is better than later.

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