Welsh TV presenter Alex Jones explores the difficulties for women to conceive in a new BBC documentary ‘Fertility & Me’.
Earlier this month, Alex Jones made the lovely announcement that she is expecting her first child. However, in a new BBC documentary, The One Show presenter explores fertility problems for older women, after learning her mum started the menopause at just 44 years old.
‘We all feel 10 years younger. 40 is the new 25 or new 30 but inside we’re all still the same as we were 100 years ago’, she says in the documentary which airs tonight on BBC One.
Appearing on This Morning, Alex revealed how filming the documentary, which included speaking to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, opened her eyes about the realities of starting a family.
She told hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield: ‘I think I was, like many people, quite naive. Of course you know that age impacts your fertility, but I think you don’t really realise to what extent until you start looking into it.
The One Show presenter wasn’t pregnant at the time of filming, and said the news of her mum’s early menopause was a tough reminder of the need to start a family sooner rather than later.
She added: ‘We’ve never talked about the menopause, mum and I, because it wouldn’t come up normally, and she told me that and I was quite shocked. I thought “Gosh, I’ve got six years”.’
Alex previously spoke exclusively to Essentials magazine about her desire to experience motherhood and why she wouldn’t bow to the pressures of being an older mum. She said: ‘It would be amazing to have a family… so many of my friends are going through complete hell trying to create a family and obviously really wanting one, but it’s just not always very simple.’
Alex, who married her New Zealander husband Charlie Thomson at Cardiff Castle on New Year’s Eve 2015, said; ‘Safer sex is important but so is learning about fertility otherwise you end up where I am now saying – oh egg freezing. I didn’t know about that.’
She also spoke openly about her sex life before meeting her husband Charlie when she was 34; ‘As most girls, I spent all of my teenager years, 20s, 30s, doing everything I could to avoid getting pregnant.’
Even when the pair met, Alex had just moved to London to begin her job on BBC One’s The One Show; ‘We met when I was 34, I had just moved to London to do the job of my dreams.
‘And then it’s just like Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart – a day arrives and then you go – gosh, maybe we should have a baby.’
Speaking to Essentials, before she anncounced her pregnancy, Alex opened up about the pressures of starting a family:
‘We haven’t started the process, so we don’t know yet how things will go, hopefully everything will be fine.’
Every newlywed will be familiar with the pressure to procreate – the ‘so when will we hear the pitter-patter of little feet?’ questions can often start before the couple have cut the cake! – but Alex wishes people would think twice before asking the question.
‘I think it can be insensitive to ask women of a certain age if they’re going to have children because you just don’t know what’s going on in their lives.’
Thankfully, at least Alex’s parents have gone easy on her: ‘My mum would never pressurise me about giving her more grandchildren. I think she understands the pace of life these days, especially for me in London.’
Alex with her husband, Charlie Thomson
‘Trying to accomplish everything is pretty hard,’ admits Alex. ‘Even though we all think society is getting better at supporting women in the workplace, I think there’s still a long way to go. Ultimately, just biologically, it’s women that have to make the sacrifices. Nobody has ever deliberately left it too late – that would be naïve to think – but, of course, career can sometimes get in the way.
‘Some of the bigger companies, like Apple and Facebook, have said that they’ll pay for their female employees to freeze their eggs, but what about saying we’ll support you if you want to do it now? You can’t fight what we look like on the inside and even though everybody looks younger and lives longer, biologically we’re still the same as we were 100 years ago.’
Of course, Alex also knows that a lot of the time, it’s not biology that is the issue, it’s fate: ‘I think so often women just don’t meet the right person while they’re young. I was speaking to a lady who gave birth at 50 because she didn’t meet her now husband until she was 43. They had a year or two together, then started trying and had to go through this long process before they were finally successful.
‘On the one hand, it’s reassuring she was eventually able to have a baby, but she didn’t want things to happen that way.’
Alex Jones’ documentary ‘Fertility & Me’ airs tonight on BBC at 10:45pm.