Valley Girl With a Brain

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A Real Ticking Clock Makes You Want to Have Kids

New research suggests the sound of a clock acts like a "biological clock."

In early August, I celebrated my 32nd birthday – although, I don’t know if celebrated is the correct word. Dreaded, feared, was creeped out by might be better suited to convey my feelings as I entered the second year of my third decade. (Holy moly, that sounds old.)

Other than the addition of a salient centimeter to my forehead wrinkle, I can’t say that there have been any drastic changes in my life. In other words, 32 feels a lot like 31.

Except for one tiny thing. 

My biological clock is ticking. That’s not true. The alarm is going off. No, the sirens are blaring. The police have been dispatched. The fire department has been called. An ambulance is on its way. I want a family.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that half a dozen friends (some younger!) had babies or will have babies this year.

Or maybe it’s because 35 may be the beginning of the end of the fertile season (Just three years away!). Studies show that “women in the 19-26 age group have double the chance of conceiving ... compared with 35-39 year olds,” according to England’s National Health Service.

In fact, research suggests “around one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 will experience fertility problems, and this rises to two-thirds when the woman is over 40.”

And then there’s Jesus, (actual Jesus) who died when he was 33, just one year shy of 32. I’m not comparing myself to the Son of God, but J.C. did a lot more on this planet than I have in the past few decades. When I’m 33, what will I have as my legacy? Winning 2nd place in a local rock-paper-scissors competition hardly counts. (And there’s a good chance, I may have inadvertently cheated.)

Another reason? My clock (the one from IKEA) is telling me it’s time for a baby.  

New research in Human Nature suggests, “the subtle sound of a ticking clock can quite literally speed up a woman’s reproductive timing.” In other words, the physical sound of each stroke makes women want to start families sooner than later.

In the experiments researchers interviewed both men and women about when they would like to get married and start a family, while a subtle, but audible clock ticked in the background.

The results indicated the sound influenced a woman’s answers. Particularly affected were women from lower socio-economic backgrounds. “They wanted to get married and have their first child at a younger age than women with more resources.” In fact, this desire that outweighed the importance they placed on their partner’s social status or long-term earning potential.

However, the ticking clock did not produce the same results in men. Which makes sense – men can father children well into old age (e.g., this guy).

Although research suggests that men’s sperm does in fact go stale with age.

“To maintain sperm levels, cells known as germ cells must continue dividing… by the age of 50, these germ cells will have divided 840 times. Each one of those divisions is the opportunity for something to go wrong.”

Another study found that “older men were more likely to father children with mental illness or other deficits.”

Men too have their own version of a biological clock. Still, their clock is less exploited by marketing. And having stale bread is better than having none at all, which is what eventually happens to a woman’s eggs, right?

I can’t help it. At 32, I expected more. I expect more.

WWJD? He’d probably quit whining and go make some more miracles.

What will I do? I’m getting rid of my analog clocks. It’s time to go digital.  

Is your biological clock ticking too? Share your thoughts below

Follow me @thisjenkim

 

Jen Kim is a former Psychology Today intern and a graduate of Northwestern University.

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