How Age Affects Fertility
Over the past several decades, we’ve seen many advances in birth control and the overall status of women in the workplace. Therefore, it’s no surprise that more and more young women are choosing to delay pregnancy until later on in life. In fact, some 20% of women are now giving birth to children after the age of 35.
But do these women have the same chance of getting pregnant as young women? Or does a woman’s ability to get pregnant decline after a certain age? Get the facts on that so-called "biological clock" and whether time is really running out!
Getting Pregnant After Age 30
When a girl is born, she is already equipped with all the eggs she will ever use – over 1 million to be exact (although this number declines to about 300,000 after puberty). However as women age, so too do their eggs, causing them to become increasingly susceptible to abnormalities – which is why younger women have less of a chance of giving birth to babies with genetic birth defects, such as Down’s Syndrome. They also have a reduced the risk of miscarriage, which is most commonly caused by egg abnormalities.
Statistically speaking, the chances of pregnancy for women over 30 start to decline by about 3.5% per year. This rate continues to increase after the age of 40. After 45, however, experts say it is virtually impossible for a woman to conceive using exclusively her own eggs.
One possible reason for this lowered rate of fertility is a change in the pituitary gland’s production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – the hormone that is responsible for the development of eggs during the menstrual cycle. As women age and their ability to become pregnant declines, levels of FSH start to rise, interfering with the ovaries’ ability to produce eggs.
To determine whether FSH is impeding a woman’s chances of conceiving, her doctor will likely perform a test on the third day of her menstrual cycle to check for levels of FSH. If these levels are consistently high, the patient is determined to have a very slight chance of becoming pregnant.
That’s why women over the age of 35 will generally undergo a fertility evaluation if they do not conceive after 6 months of having unprotected sex.
The Good News: The Advantages of Middleaged Motherhood
First and foremost, for women who have decided to wait until later on in life to begin having a family, you have the advantage of having added wisdom, stability and likely even financial security. You’ve also probably had more time to foster a healthy relationship with your partner that will ensure your child a life of good parenting.
Furthermore, though many women over 35 do not experience trouble conceiving, for those who do, there simply has never been a more promising time for becoming pregnant. With so many recent medical advances in infertility treatments, there are more options than ever available to women of all ages who are having difficulty conceiving. From the more standard medical options to alternative therapies, you’re sure to find one that’s right for you!
For more information on all things fertility, check our SharedJourney.com to find out about all the latest treatment options available.