Across the world, the average age of mothers having their first child is rising. However, age and fertility are inversely proportional— meaning the higher the age, the lower your chances of achieving conception. Not just the possibility of conception, your age also determines the stability of your pregnancy and physical and mental health of your future child. This makes it extremely important for couples to plan childbirth keeping in view their age.
How does age affect possibility of pregnancy?
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For women as well as men, age is the single-biggest factor, impacting their fertility. Several researches done in the field show a woman in her early to mid-20s has a 25–30% chance of getting pregnant every month. By the age of 40, these odds lower to only 5%. A woman’s fertility will usually peak between the age of 24 and 34.
How does age affect pregnancy-related risks?
Aside from impacting the possibility of conception, age also determines pregnancy-related complications. The pool of eggs present in the ovaries begins to deplete as women hit 35, alongside the decline in the quality of eggs. This means that even if pregnancy occurs, it can be very risky. The list of risks could include high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placenta praevia, pre-eclampsia and premature birth. Older mums are more likely to have birth complications, including artificial labour inducing, assisted birth or a caesarean section.
Also, among women aged higher than 35, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus and miscarriage are much higher. Various researches done in the field show for a mother conceiving after her 30s, the percentage of chromosomally abnormal embryos is as high as 31%. This percentage might rise up to 100% among women aged 44 and above. With the rise in age, the likelihood of abnormalities, including mental retardation and Down’s syndrome, also increase.
Age and male fertility
More recent studies on the subject also reveal that age of the male partner matters significantly in achieving pregnancy. After 40, male fertility starts to decline with a deterioration of sperm quality. Similarly, pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriages and still birth are also high. Recent studies how a slow-but-definite DNA fragmentation of the sperm head as men age, leading to higher risks of miscarriages.
In 2014, a Swedish study published in JAMA Pyschiatry said children born to fathers above 45 years have a heightened risk of developing autism.
- If you are aged 35 to 39, it could take you a couple of years to conceive even if you are having unprotected coitus twice a week.
- Some women hit menopause in their early 40s. This lowers their chance of conceiving in the late 30s.
- Assisted conception treatments like IVF are more likely to be successful among women aged below 35.
- It is a common misconception that at the age of 35, your chances at getting pregnant simply vanish. The fact is that at that age, your fertility starts to decline more rapidly.
How do women’s reproductive systems work?
Every woman is born with a fixed number of eggs, in the range of about 1 to 2 million at the time of birth. By the time she hits puberty, nearly 300,000 eggs are left in her ovaries. Of these, only some are fit to get fertilised.
Women’s age and chances of pregnancy
When is a woman most likely to have a healthy pregnancy?
A woman’s fertility is at a peak in her early 20s.
When is a woman’s fertility at its peak?
Studies suggest that the average fertility rate peaks at the age of 24