Stats in pop culture…how fertile are you anyway?

I don’t watch much TV.  Though I occasionally watch a crime procedural or two (see kids, science is fun!), I can’t remember the last time I watched a sitcom (scratch that, I have watch the Big Bang Theory on more than one occasion).  Thus I was somewhat interested to see the feminist blogosphere calling out the Zooey Deschanel vehicle (oh she’s so zany… that rain????) “The New Girl” for using a deceptive statistic.

Apparently a recent episode focused entirely on the premise that “by the time a lady hits 30, she loses about 90 percent of her eggs.”

When the fact checkers weighed in, they revealed that while that stat is true, women start out with approximately 300,000 eggs… at 30 there are still about 30,000 hanging out there.

Of course eggs don’t necessarily equate to fertility, and fertility doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy pregnancy.  Despite what many comments section trolls claim, women’s prime childbearing years are not in their teens, but rather peak at 25 or so.

While taking a look at this, I actually found more evidence that the fertility decline starts circa 27, but the overall chances of ever achieving pregnancy don’t start to drop off until 33 or 34.  This was a good reminder that the “turning 30” thing has little to do with an actual physiological change, and more to do with people just liking round numbers.

Also related: I had often heard (and even quoted) that women who had already had kids were able to have kids later in life than those who had not (ie a woman who has a child at 30 will have an easier time having another one at 37 then one who is trying at 37 for the first time).  There’s a suggestion that this actually isn’t true….it’s just that by having that first child you’ve self selected as someone who doesn’t have a pre-existing fertility problem.  I couldn’t find the original study to verify this….but it seems like a plausible oversight.

Another note: fertility stats are really difficult to try to find, IVF clinics are the ones publishing most of them and they’re dodgy with citations…..still a better source for info than a TV show though.

One last note: congrats to regular reader Andy….you’re going to love being a Dad.  The world needs more banjo players….brainwash him/her early and you just might get one.