Taking on the Biological Clock

Last Fall Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud Show did a piece on “As We Are: Childfree.” Tiffany Lee Brown, a writer and artist, was a guest on the show, and told an interesting story about her experience of the biological clock.  She decided not have children in her 20’s, mostly because she felt that living an artist’s lifestyle would be incompatible with parenthood. But at about 40, she says she got “slammed” by the biological clock. An intense need came over her body, and she was “wrestling it down” to preserve other areas of her life. She is married and is a step-parent to her husband’s daughter. Her husband does not want to have more children, and she has an awesome step kid, so although her body was crying out to have a child, she decided to remain “biologically child-free.”


She makes the point that by not honoring our biological urge we deny a most basic need – one that comes from the reptilian part of our brains. This point brought to mind what many childfree women I’ve talked to have told me about the biological urge and the ticking clock to fill that urge. Most would disagree that it is denying a most basic need…many women do not feel this thing called the biological urge.  Vicki, from Families of Two, summed it up the way many childfree women would – the urge is not to procreate; the urge is to have sex!


But is there real evidence of the biological clock? I went looking for the latest. The hottest off the press is s newly released collaboration study between St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities. It attempts to solve the inner workings of the biological clock. Based on a mathematical model of the decline in ovarian reserves, it basically says women lose about 90% of their eggs by the age of 30.


Yet Adelaide University Professor and fertility expert, Rob Norman, says that while he was surprised by the sharp drop-off in the number of eggs, it was a "mathematical model that was not predictive for women.”


Beyond the fact that experts seem to disagree on how to predict women’s egg loss, I am left with these questions—


How does the decrease in eggs tie to the longing we are supposed to get? Does the "urge" come when women are getting down to the final few (eggs that is) and it is our bodies saying get about it using them?


As we enter perimenopause, women know hormones are a changing—does this hormone shift somehow relate to the longing, the last reproductive stand?


How does this ovarian decline, however it really works, relate to women who simply do not feel the bio urge and have no clock ticking?


Tiffany Brown describes her “mental” desire not to have her biological children. But ultimately, her emotional desires won out.  She recently became pregnant.


The jury may be out on the bio urge and the ticking clock, but I sure see how emotional desire is the key.  Beyond all the mental reasons people can come up with to have kids or not, in the end, ultimately it is matter of the heart. Tiffany finally did what hers had been calling her to do. And those who are childfree do the same.


Families of Two



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