Age and Fertility

 

Starting a family requires perfect timing. Financial and emotional factors are prime considerations in choosing to have a lifelong responsibility over another life. But individuals but realize that they’ve got a biological clock ticking against them as well. One’s fertility dwindles as one grows older and the choice to have a child is only viable and risk-free until a certain age.

For various reasons, more and more individuals choose to start a family a bit later nowadays. Whether it is choosing to reach a career milestone or simply the fact that the right partner didn’t come a long earlier, statistics show that about 1 in 5 women who get pregnant in the states choose to do so after the age of 35. However, studies also show that due to increased exposure to illnesses and diseases and increased chances of having underlying conditions that have remained untreated make pregnancy over 35 a bit trickier.

Couple indoors smilingIndividuals and couples who plan to conceive during their mid-thirties face greater risks than those in their twenties. As we grow older the quality of our reproductive cells and even our reproductive system suffers a decline.

In the case of one couple, the McGraths thought it was perfectly all right to try and get pregnant at 39. Laurie and her husband Dennis realized otherwise when their first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage as did the next two that followed.

Laurie said that she didn’t realize the risks that came with her age. “I’d had no idea that at my age, it’s fairly common to miscarry,” Laurie McGrath explained. “I’d never even taken it into consideration. I just thought, you get pregnant, you have a healthy baby, that’s it.” In the end, the couple has decided to adopt.

Fertility in Women

 

Women are born with all their egg cells in their lifetime. This supply dwindles as a woman has menstrual cycles and their quality lessens over time as well. This means that the number of genetically normal eggs lessens along with the capacity of the woman to carry a baby. Findings reveal that women who get pregnant older have higher miscarriage rates and have a greater chance of giving birth to babies with genetic defects such as Down Syndrome.

A woman’s fertility reaches a peak at 27, gradually declines through her thirties and undergoes a marked decline at forty. In fact a woman’s 25 percent chance of getting pregnant at any month drops to 10 percent to her thirties and goes even lower as she ages. Although many women are still able to conceive and carry at their forties (even well into their forties), some may require fertility treatments and procedures such as in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination to get pregnant. These treatments are quite expensive and do not offer a 100 percent assurance of pregnancy.

Choosing to have a baby after 35 may also increase the chances of having a C-section delivery, an underweight baby (less than 5.5 pounds) and even stillbirths. Other risks include preeclampsia, ectopic pregnancy, gestational diabetes and placenta pravia. While it is true that some of these risks may have been exaggerated and not as common as some sources profess, it is still best that a woman who is pregnant or plan to conceive at this age should consult their doctor, have thorough tests to identify any existing condition, be abreast how this will affect you and the pregnancy and learn how to manage this without any long-term adverse effects on the baby.

In one of our upcoming segments, we’ll discuss some of the issues with regards to men’s fertility and aging, and other issues involving infertility, infertility treatments, and how your overall health impacts pregnancies with advanced maternal age.