Regardless of how old you are, you’ve likely heard that there is a direct correlation between age and fertility. Unfortunately, this isn’t an “old wives’ tale.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) explains, “By age 30, fertility starts to decline. This decline becomes more rapid once you reach your mid-30s. By 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely for most women.” There’s even a term specifically for pregnant women over age 35: “advanced maternal age.”
At Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne, Florida, we know that sounds pretty grim. The truth is, many different factors have to align just right in order to successfully get pregnant. This is true, no matter how old you are. This statistic often takes people by surprise. The odds of even a healthy woman in her mid-20s conceiving naturally in any given month are just 15-25%. Just because you reach a certain age, that does not mean you’ll never be able to conceive naturally. Age is undoubtedly related to fertility, but it’s certainly not the only factor. We always take the approach of informing our patients the best we can and to that point, today we’re explaining exactly how age affects fertility.
The Effect of Age On a Woman’s Eggs
Fascinatingly, females are born with a finite number of eggs already inside their ovaries. The number of eggs you have as a 30-year-old is the same number you have at birth. As time goes on and the eggs age, they are more likely to become damaged, weaken in quality, and develop genetic abnormalities. A woman’s egg “reserve” also begins to naturally deplete over time, so you physically have fewer eggs the older you get.
In order to conceive, a woman must ovulate and her eggs must be successfully fertilized by sperm, then implant into the uterine wall. The likelihood of doing all of that with older, potentially damaged eggs becomes less and less with age.
One thing that’s important to note here is that some women simply have low egg reserves, even when they’re at peak fertility in their 20s. In some cases, there is no known cause. In others, genetic testing is able to help determine that an inherited disorder or gene mutation is to blame. Like so many other aspects of conception and pregnancy, the number of eggs a woman has and their quality are far from black-and-white.
Age-related Pregnancy Complications
In addition to having more difficulty conceiving the older you get, the risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and birth defects also increases. This is because older eggs are much more likely to develop chromosomal abnormalities. Pregnant women over the age of 35 are also at increased risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
Fertility Options at Viera Fertility Center
The decision of when to try and conceive is a deeply personal one. Whether you’re approaching your mid-30s, you’re still in your 20s but know you’re not ready to start a family, or you’re 40 and wondering if you can get pregnant naturally, fertility testing at Viera Fertility is an excellent starting point. This is one of the best ways to get a comprehensive picture of your overall fertility health. The results can help you and your fertility doctor decide on the best course of action.
Some women, regardless of their age, choose to freeze their eggs for later use. Those eggs can be unfrozen and used for in vitro fertilization (IVF). It’s important to mention that there is no guarantee that IVF will be successful. This is true even if there were no known fertility issues at the time the eggs were retrieved. Your doctor can help you determine if freezing your eggs is the right decision.
Contact the Experts at Viera Fertility Center
If you have questions or concerns about how your age may be impacting your fertility, please contact us. Our family at Viera Fertility can answer all of your questions. Additionally, we can guide you through options for fertility testing, which is the first step. We look forward to speaking with you soon.