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Carrie Underwood Sparked an Online Debate About Fertility After Age 35

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Photo: Rich Fury / Getty Images

In Redbook's September cover interview, Carrie Underwood discussed her new album and recent injury, but a comment she made about her family planning got the most attention across the web. "I'm 35, so we may have missed our chance to have a big family," she told the mag. "We always talk about adoption and about doing it when our child or children are a little older." 

It doesn't seem like a particularly ~controversial~ thing to say, but Underwood's remark sparked some passionate tweets about fertility. Some people shared that they thought Underwood's comment was misguided. "You need to know your window for having children is not closed. The only thing stopping you is your decision to or not to. You can still have healthy children. 35 is not old, 35 is not too late, 35 is fine," one person tweeted

"Carrie why do you think, at age 35, your window has closed to have another child? Sure the older you get it's not as easy to get pregnant. If you want it, make it happen!" another wrote. (Related: Carrie Underwood Shared the Cutest Photos Working Out with Her Family)

Others came to Underwood's defense. "Why is everyone giving Carrie Underwood heat for saying she's worried about fertility at age 35?? You aren't her doctor, you don't know if she has a medical condition that makes it hard for her to have kids," one person wrote. "Carrie Underwood is right. Once you turn 35 your pregnancy is considered high risk. The odds of complications for both the baby and mother are higher," posted another

To be clear, Underwood didn't say that women can't have kids after 35, she just said that she may have missed her chance to have a big family. She and her husband Mike Fisher currently have one child. The commenters who pointed out that 35 is not too old to become pregnant are right, though. In recent years, the U.S. has seen a rise in women having their first child after the age of 35, which could be due in part to the emergence of medical advancements like IVF, egg freezing, and surrogacy.

"Despite the challenges, many women over 35 years can have healthy pregnancies and babies," according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (Here are answers to all your questions about egg freezing and fertility as you age.)

On the other hand, the tweeters who came to her defense also have a point. It's known that fertility begins to decline as early as age 24 with more of a rapid decline once women reach their mid 30s. "Fertility doesn't decline abruptly," Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School, previously told Shape. "But about at age 35, you start seeing a subtle decline, and at 40 a more significant decline. The next bump down is about age 43." In other words, Underwood wasn't off-base for suggesting her odds at having many more kids has gone down. Pregnant women who are older than 35 also have a higher chance of having a baby with a birth defect or suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth, according to ACOG. Additionally, women older than 35 may also be susceptible to preeclampsia, the dangerous condition that led Beyoncé to have an emergency C-section. (It's also the same condition that forced Kim Kardashian to use a surrogate for her third child.) 

TL;DR? Each side had a different interpretation of what Underwood said, and there are facts behind each valid point. But one thing's crystal clear: Fertility and aging will always be a touchy—and subjective—topic.

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