A woman’s reproductive life starts when she gets her first period, typically around age 12 or so, and lasts until her last menstrual period (that’s menopause). However, since women’s egg quality and egg count decline with age, they do not remain fertile during the entire period of their reproductive age. Age has a negative impact on the ability to conceive, especially for women. It is the major factor affecting a woman’s fertility. For men, age-related infertility issues are more subtle, but it happens gradually.
Women’s Age and Fertility
A woman is born with all her eggs, but they age with her, declining in quantity and quality. Age is, therefore, the most important factor that has a negative impact on women’s fertility. Maintaining good health surely enhances the chance of getting pregnant, but it does not override the effects of age on women’s fertility.
When a woman is in her early to mid-20s, she has a 25% to 30% chance of getting pregnant each month. Her fertility starts to deteriorate when she is in her early 30s, and it speeds up after the age of 35. By 40, the chance of getting pregnant in a monthly cycle goes down to 5%. Some people believe that In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a sure shot way of getting pregnant, but it is a misconception that IVF treatment can override age-related infertility issues.
For older women, the chance of getting pregnant goes up if they use eggs donated by younger women. The incidence of miscarriage, pregnancy complications, stillbirth also increases with age.
Men’s Age and Fertility
While the effects of age on fertility for women have been known, recent studies have also found that men’s age also affects the chance of pregnancy. Male infertility often starts around the age of 40–45 years when sperm quality declines. Growing age also diminishes the chances of conceiving, increases time to pregnancy and the risk of fetal abnormalities / Molformations, death and miscarriage.
If you wish to have a baby, you must understand how your age may impact the chances of getting pregnant. You must see a fertility specialist or visit a family planning clinic and talk to them about your plans for having children. By learning about all the available options and knowing your own needs and goals, you and your partner will be better prepared to make the right decisions.
If you are in a relationship, you must have a conversation with your partner early about if and when you would like to have children to improve your chances of having a child.