Female Fertility & Age
Monday, February 28, 2022
Why does age matters for women who want to have a family? A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. As she ages her eggs age with her and their number and quality reduce over time. This is why her chance of having a baby also reduces over time, especially for women older than 35 years of age.
This information can be difficult for women who, for whatever reason, are not ready in their 20s or early 30s to start a family.
For women, the easiest time to get pregnant is before the age of 30, as women are most fertile before this age. After 30, women’s fertility starts to decrease, and After 35 fertility declines more significantly. By 40, a woman’s fertility is about half the level it was before she was 30.
The number and quality of eggs (ovarian reserve) decreases naturally and progressively from the time a woman is born until the time she reaches menopause. This decline is gradual until her early 30s but accelerates quickly after her mid-30s.
The two most common causes of female infertility are:
– Ovulation problems: can happen as you get older because the number of eggs in your ovaries (ovarian reserve) decreases with age. The fewer good quality eggs you have left, the more difficult it may be to conceive a healthy pregnancy. About one percent of women stop ovulating before they reach the age of 40 (premature ovarian insufficiency).
– Damage to the fallopian tubes: may be caused by previous surgery, infection, or another condition such as endometriosis. The older you are, the more likely it is that you could have had a condition that affects your fertility this way.
Other age-related conditions that can affect fertility include:
-Endometriosis, can cause fallopian tubes to thicken with scar tissue. If you have endometriosis, it may become more extensive as you age. The damage to the fallopian tubes can also make an ectopic pregnancy more likely.
– Fibroids are more common in women over 30 and may cause fertility problems for some women.
How can they test my ovarian reserve?
The number and quality of your eggs (ovarian reserve) can be estimated using blood tests for follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or antimüllerian hormone (AMH) levels. An ultrasound is sometimes used to count the number of follicles (antral follicle count [AFC]).
Pregnancy and birth risks
Because of the changes that happen in eggs as we age, including damage to genetic material, children of older parents have a slightly higher risk of birth defects and genetic abnormalities. The risk of mental health problems and autism spectrum disorder is marginally higher in children of fathers older than 40 than in those with younger fathers.
It is estimated that the risk of having a baby with a chromosomal (or genetic) abnormality is approximately one in 400 for a woman aged 30 and one in 100 for a woman aged 40.
The risks of miscarriage and complications in pregnancy and childbirth are higher for older women than for younger women.
Older women also have a higher risk of having gestational diabetes, placenta previa, placental abruption, and stillbirth than younger women.
Even if you’re not planning to have a baby soon, making some healthy choices now increases your chances of having a baby in the future.