There’s a birth trend happening among women all across the U.S. but it doesn’t involve curated Instagram photos or a viral dance on TikTok. It actually involves waiting – as in waiting until later in life to get pregnant. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, women are delaying pregnancy until they’re older. Over the last 30 years, the average age of pregnant women rose from 27 years old in 1990 to 30 years old in 2019.
A woman’s age plays an important role in all aspects of pregnancy. It can affect how easily she gets pregnant, stays pregnant, and the health of herself and her baby. Let’s take a look at how age impacts a woman’s fertility.
Why does age affect fertility?
It’s a biological fact that as a woman ages, her fertility declines. You’re most fertile in your teens and twenties, but by age 30, your fertility starts to gradually decline. At age 35, this decline begins to happen more rapidly. And by 45, most women can no longer get pregnant without medical intervention.
Every woman is born with all the eggs in her ovaries she’ll ever produce. As we get older, the number and quality of those eggs begins to decrease. Poor quality eggs make it harder to get pregnant and raise the risk of miscarriage or birth defects.
Does age affect a man’s fertility?
It’s not just women who are affected, age also plays a role in men’s fertility too. A man’s fertility may start to decline in their mid to late 40’s but it’s not as predictable as a woman’s. A change in the quality of sperm can lead to chromosomal abnormalities.
How hard is it to get pregnant if I’m over 35?
Most women can still get pregnant if they’re over the age of 35. In fact, many can still conceive naturally into their 40’s. But it’s important to know what to expect when you’re an older mother.
- It may take longer to get pregnant – because the amount and quality of eggs in your ovaries declines with age, it may take longer than expected to get pregnant. Women under 30 have a 20% chance of getting pregnant with each menstrual cycle, while women who are 40 only have about a 5% chance each cycle.
- Medical intervention may be needed – Some women, no matter what their age, may need a little help getting pregnant. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI) are just two of the procedures your healthcare provider may suggest.
- The risk of complications increases with age – Older women may have more pre-existing health issues, like diabetes or high blood pressure, which can lead to complications.
If you’re not quite ready or able to have children before you hit your mid-thirties, you may consider freezing your eggs to be used later. Obviously this is a big personal and financial decision, but it is an option. And it ensures you’re fertilizing eggs of good quality when the time comes.
What are the risks of pregnancy if I’m older?
Many women get pregnant when they’re over 35 and go on to have healthy babies. Being over the ‘ideal’ childbearing age doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have complications. There are many other factors that play a role in how your pregnancy will progress besides your age. But it’s important to understand some of the risks that come with being an older mother.
- The risk of chromosome defects is greater – Babies born to older mothers have a higher chance of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome and Trisomy 18.
- The risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia increases
- Having multiples is more common – As you age, your hormones can cause more than one egg to be released from your ovaries. Also IVF can lead to multiples depending on the practices of the clinic you go to.
- C-sections are more common
- The risk of pregnancy loss is higher – Stillbirth and miscarriage increases with maternal age. This may be due to poor egg quality and preexisting health conditions of the mother.
Will I get any extra care if I’m pregnant and over 35?
If you’re an older mom, you’ll typically be monitored by your healthcare provider more often. They may have you come in for more prenatal visits or send you to a specialist for ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s growth. The goal is to make sure you and your baby are as healthy as possible and to catch problems early so they can be addressed.
They’ll also offer you the opportunity for different types of genetic testing. These genetic tests can involve blood draws, ultrasounds, and amniocentesis depending on how much information you want to know before the baby is born. You’re not obligated to go along with any of the additional genetic testing if you don’t want to. Some families want to know all they can before the baby arrives and others don’t. Genetic testing is a very personal and sensitive decision that should be made between you, your partner, and your health care team.
Can I increase my fertility?
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to slow down the effects of age on your eggs. However, it’s always a good idea to incorporate some healthy lifestyle changes. Eating a balanced diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve any chronic health conditions you may currently have and lower your risk for some complications.
It’s also important to make sure your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs to support a healthy pregnancy. Our Premier Fertility Bundle has all the nutrients you’ll need to prepare your body for pregnancy. When you take care of yourself, you’re ultimately taking care of your future unborn baby too.
When to seek help
If you’ve been trying to have a baby but haven’t been successful, it may be time to visit your healthcare provider.
You should see a doctor for an infertility evaluation if:
- You’re under 35 and you’ve been unable to get pregnant for the past year
- You’re over 35 and you’ve been unable to get pregnant for at least 6 months
If you’re over 40, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment before you start trying to get pregnant. It’s also a good idea to visit a doctor before you conceive if you have any known health issues that could impair fertility, like endometriosis.
It’s not too late…
If you’re older and looking to have a baby – you’re in good company. Many families are delaying having children until they’re well into their 30’s. Giving birth to a child at any age is a true blessing, so don’t let your age deter you from starting the family you’ve always dreamed of having. Arm yourself with the knowledge of what to expect when it comes to your fertility in your 30’s and 40’s.As always, if you have any questions, reach out to our Customer Obsession Team.