As a mother of five and the founder and medical director of Lane Fertility Institute, I am passionate about making sure my daughters are educated about their reproductive health.
Dr. Danielle Lane's four beautiful daughters.
Growing up, I wish I had known more about my reproductive health. The option to electively preserve my fertility (egg freezing or embryo banking) didn't exist, and I wish that it had. It was a priority for me to be a mother and I knew from an early age it was going to be the most important thing I did. But, there was also pressure from family, school and society to get an education and go further. I am so glad I was able to achieve both, but I would have felt more settled if I had had a road-map of how to fit family into my plan. Of course then, there was no such thing, but today there are so many professional women who have modeled the ability to do both - have a brilliant family and also a groundbreaking career.
I am a part of a program which educates fifth grade young ladies, at all an girls school, about careers in medicine. I tell them that it is important to have a plan by the age of 35 - either start having kids, freeze eggs or embryos, or be okay with the possibility of having age-related fertility challenges. The girls may be a little giggly when the session starts, but they quickly settle into to wanting to know the information. I believe this is because every all girls school I have ever attended as a student, an alumnae council member, or as a parent, still models family - first and foremost. Moms are serving visible volunteer roles in the lunchroom, on committees, on field trips and in classrooms. Therefore, these girls may be receiving a formal education which will assist them in launching a career, but they are also receiving an informal education on their roles as women in a family structure. And subconsciously, having children is modeled as a value from a very young age.
As a woman, it is so empowering to be educated about your fertility options. We have the opportunity to focus on our careers and compete in many arenas still dominated by men. This doesn't have to stop us from being a mother. But, I still see so many women who have missed the opportunity to do both because as a society we only equate family planning with contraception - birth control pills, IUDs, etc. We need to equate family planning with both preventing pregnancy AND preparing for pregnancy. Understanding when you might want to start having a family and then planning to take action if it is not going to be at your biological peak of fertility just makes sense. I mean, we are a group of women who study and over-achieve in every way: education, career, retirement—why wouldn't we plan for this as well?
Dr. Danielle Lane is a fertility specialist with expertise in egg freezing and IVF treatment. // lanefertilityinstitute.com