Why Age Matters When It Comes to Getting Pregnant
July 8, 2015
The “Biological Clock” is an age-old joke, but it’s no laughing matter when you’re heading into your mid-to late 30s and beyond while trying to conceive a baby. While it may not seem fair, the truth is that age and fertility are 100% related. Women’s peak fertility years are during the roaring 20s, a time when most women are in the midst of continuing their education, starting their careers and experiencing all that life has to offer as they look for their future life mate.
Trying To Get Pregnant? Don’t Ignore Your Biological Clock!
Even though it might not seem fair, and you shouldn’t try to conceive a baby before you’re ready, it is important that women understand the role that age plays when it comes to getting pregnant. Consider that only a small percentage of women in their 20s have problems conceiving or are diagnosed with infertility, contrasted with the fact that about 60% of women in their 40s struggle with infertility.
Here are some of the vital facts and statistics regarding female fertility by age bracket:
Fertility in your 20s. By 20s, we don’t mean that you have to rush out there and conceive when you’re 22 – or bemoan the fact that you didn’t. Your chances of getting pregnant at 20 are about the same as when you’re 29. The good news is that a healthy woman in her 20s has roughly a 30% chance of getting pregnant each time she ovulates, as long as she has sex within the day or two beforehand. This is why we tell women in their 20s and early 30s not to panic when they don’t get pregnant the first, second, third or ninth cycle. It typically takes about a year for woman to conceive a baby. Plus, consider that only about half of the eggs your body produces are viable – so what you aren’t aware of are all the “potential conceptions that weren’t,” as a result of your body’s wisdom.
Women in their 20s have about a 10% chance of miscarrying and one or two miscarriages is no cause for concern. The best thing you can do for you and your potential baby is to eat well, exercise regularly and let your doctor know you are interested in conceiving so she can provide you with further information about your pre-conception lifestyle, health and well-being.
Fertility in your 30s. The 30s are an interesting decade in fertility. When you turn 30 and 31, your chances of conceiving naturally are still high. As you approach and pass the 35-year mark, however, things start to change fairly rapidly. Women who enjoy reproductive health in their 30s have a 15% chance of getting pregnant during the fertile windows in their menstrual cycle. This percentage is closer to 30% during the early 30s and then tapers after the 35-year mark.
During the mid- to later-30s, pregnancy complications and C-section rates go up slightly, as do the rates for congenital defects such as Down’s Syndrome. Miscarriage rates go up to about 18%, most likely as a result of genetic abnormalities in the egg. If you are 30 – 34ish, give yourself that full 12-months to conceive. Once you’ve hit 35, give yourself six months and then talk to your OB/GYN about whether or not you should pursue infertility testing.
Fertility in your 40s. Things change rather drastically for women once they hit 40, and fertility at this age is definitely an uphill battle. In fact, by age 45, it’s almost impossible to get pregnant using your own eggs. Not only have your egg supplies dwindled by this time, the chances of those eggs being genetically viable for a healthy conception, pregnancy and live birth have also diminished. Your total chance of getting pregnant within a year at ages 40 – 42 is about 45% (only about a 5% chance in any given fertility cycle) However, by the time you are 43 or older, your chances of conceiving naturally within a year dips to about 1% to 2%. If you are planning on getting pregnant in your 40s, it’s a good idea to speak with a fertility specialist and/or to pursue fertility treatments sooner rather than later.
It can be difficult to read those daunting statistics if you are at the older-end of the fertility age spectrum. However, the good news is that fertility treatments have come a long way and the sooner you pursue them if necessary, the higher your chances of success will be.
Would you like to learn more about your chances of fertility and available fertility treatment options? Schedule an appointment with Women’s Health Associates. Depending on your situation, we may be able to assist you on your fertility journey or we can also provide referrals to excellent fertility clinics in the area.