Does Age Affect Fertility?

The fountain of youth can’t help us forever. When women hit their 30s, their fertility declines. They also have a higher risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy over the age of 35.

Why does age affect fertility? Here are some reasons:

  1. Did you know that women only have a certain number of eggs? It’s true.  As we age, our eggs are aging and that means the quality and number of our eggs decrease.
  2. Hormone levels are constantly changing as we age and that affects our ovulation cycle. Some months a woman may not ovulate at all.
  3. As mentioned with age our egg count decreases. The eggs just die off, so to speak.
  4. Age affects male fertility too. As men age their sperm count decreases.
  5. With age couples may have a decrease in the frequency of intercourse, meaning the possibility to conceive decreases.
  6. There are many other conditions, such as endometriosis, which may interfere with conception.

Is Pregnancy After Age 35 Safe?

There are medical advances, supplements and drugs that can help women over 35 have healthy pregnancies. Nevertheless, despite our research and knowledge infertility and pregnancy complications for women over 35 are definitely higher than for younger women…for obvious reasons as stated above. There are risks with having children over 35 and more so over 40. Ask your doctor to explain all the risks to you so you are prepared.

Do Birth Defects Increase After Age 35?

Let me put it simply. Yes.

According to the March of Dimes, women over the age of 35 have an increased risk of delivering a baby with a birth defect.  Down Syndrome and autism are two common defects that increase as the mother’s and father’s ages increase.  Even with young moms there are no guarantees.  The risk for Down Syndrome:

Age 25, 1 in 1,250

Age 30, 1 in 1,000

Age 35, 1 in 400

Age 40, 1 in 100

Age 45, 1 in 30

Age 49, a 1 in 10

Obviously, your risks increase as the mother’s and father’s ages increase. It’s probably due to abnormal division of the egg which may lead to unequal chromosomes at the end of division. The traditional age at which a woman is considered to be at high risk for chromosomal abnormalities is 35.

Do Women Over 35 Have a Higher Risk of Miscarriage?

Studies show that the risk of miscarriage (loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation) is 12% to 15% for women in their 20s and rises to about 25% for women at age 40. The increased incidence of chromosomal abnormalities contributes to this increased risk of miscarriage in older women. (American Pregnancy Association)

Do Women Over 35 Have a Higher Risk of Stillbirth?

Stillbirth (delivery of a baby that has died before birth) is more common in women over age 35. Older women are also more likely to have low-birth weight babies (weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth).

Cesarean birth is also slightly more common for women having their first child after age 35.

Source: American Pregnancy Association

About lesley

Lesley Vance is the author of Infertility Journeys, Finding Your Happy Ending.
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