‘Media glamourises pregnancy at advanced ages,’ study suggests

Researchers say women are being misled into thinking pregnancy is more straightforward past the age of 35 than it is.

Researchers from New York University School of Medicine and New York University Langone Medical Center say that magazine articles about older celebrities giving birth ‘glamourise’ being an older mum.

By not mentioning the difficulties or the risks of getting pregnant at an older age, researchers suggest that women are being misled into thinking that pregnancy is more straightforward past the age of 35 than it is.

They analysed magazines ‘popular with women of reproductive age’ between January 2010 and January 2014 and noted all references of pregnancy, infertility, assisted reproductive technology (ART), surrogacy or adoption.

They found that just over half of the pregnant female celebrities that were featured were 35 years or above. Ten out of the 240 women were reported to have used surrogate mothers or having adopted children. There was no mention of these women having infertility issues. Only two women were reported as having fertility treatment, but not one celebrity report mentioned that they used donor sperm or eggs.

By looking at the way celebrity pregnancies over the age of 35 are portrayed in magazines, researchers were able to find out if this ‘contributes to public misconceptions surrounding age-related fertility decline.’

The researchers concluded that,

"Widely consumed popular media downplays the impact of age on fertility and glamorises pregnancy at advanced ages, with rare or no mention of ART, donor [eggs or sperm], or related health risks."

Read more about conceiving at 35 and above.

However, a number of high-profile celebrities have opened up about their journey to pregnancy over the last few years. Nicole Kidman was 43 when her daughter was born via a surrogate mother. Mariah Carey was 41 when she had twins through IVF.

Former Spice Girl Geri Horner has spoken about her struggle to conceive her son Monty. The singer, 44, gave birth to Monty in January and has revealed that before falling pregnant naturally, she underwent a number of failed IVF treatments.

Speaking to Red magazine recently, Geri said,

"I wanted another baby and I'd tried an assisted route and it didn't work. I feel for any woman that has that natural biological longing, it's tough. I'd got to thinking I have a child, my husband has a daughter, and accepting this is our lot. Then Monty came naturally. Bluebell is sweet with him. Helps me change his nappy, pushes the pram."

It is true that fertility does decline with age, but many women conceive naturally aged over 40 and go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Although women who become pregnant after 35 are more likely to experience complications, they are also monitored more closely throughout their pregnancy to ensure that any problems are picked up and treated.

We understand that every woman, celebrity or not, has the right to privacy. It is her decision as to how much information she shares about her pregnancy.

Read our tips for conceiving over the age of 35

Read IVF stories from women who've been there.