Young husband fears wife unable to bear childrenMonday, June 21, 2021
Dr Sharmaine MITCHELL
Dear Dr Mitchell,
My wife is 47 and I am 33. She has two children from a previous marriage, and when we got married a year ago, she said we could immediately try for a child as she knows how important this is to me. We have been trying and nothing has happened, and she now tells me that her periods have stopped. Could this be menopause? Though I am aware of her age, she assured me that her doctor said that she was still fertile. What can we do to have a baby? I don't think that I can stay in this marriage unless I become a father.
The ability to become pregnant starts declining significantly when a woman gets older. The decline starts after 35 years old and is significantly reduced after 40 years old. At age 47 years old, the ovaries start to shut down in most women since the number of eggs are significantly decreased.
The problem with older women is not just egg production, but also poor egg quality. The risk of having an abnormal baby is increased significantly because of the poor egg quality. Once the ovaries start to fail, the menstrual period becomes irregular and then eventually stops. Some women experience symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and irritability with the decrease in hormone production by the ovaries.
The fact that the period has stopped is definitely a sign of ovarian failure at 47 years old. Menopause is usually when the period stops for a full year. The period might become irregular and then stop completely once the ovaries start to shut down.
The difference in age is significant, and childbearing at 47 years old can be complicated. Your wife should go to her doctor and do a blood test to check her levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). She should also do a prolactin level and a thyroid function test. If the hormone levels for the LH and FSH are high and in the menopause range, then this definitely means her egg production is finished.
If you are not against using donor eggs, then you can get some eggs from a young donor and the doctor can use your sperm to fertilise the eggs in a fertility lab. The embryo will be transferred into your wife's uterus to grow and then you can both have a baby. If your wife has any medical problems that would put her at increased risk for complications in the pregnancy, then, you can get a surrogate (another woman) to carry the pregnancy for you using donor eggs. This option for invitro fertilisation is available in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. You should consult with your wife's gynaecologist and have a joint meeting to discuss these options. You can both be referred to the infertility specialist. If you are not able to afford the invtro fertilisation, then, adoption is another way to become a father.
You should both go for some counselling to discuss other options available to you before giving up on the marriage. The wedding counsellor would be a good person to talk to, or your church pastor. You need to be honest with each other and move forward in a safe and productive manner. I'm praying that all works out well for both of you.
Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or fax to 876-968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.
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