Deciding to start a family is a big step in one’s life as it involves a total change in lifestyle, finances and is a huge, lifelong commitment for a couple to take on. For many reasons, including the considerations mentioned and simply not yet finding the right partner, both men and women are delaying their decision. While possible to conceive in your 30’s and 40’s, age can make things a little more difficult.
How Age Affects Female Fertility
For females, one of the biggest factors affecting fertility is age. Ovarian reserve, which is the total number of healthy eggs in the ovaries, affects a woman’s chances to get pregnant as they are needed for fertilisation to take place. This naturally diminishes with age, as well as many other factors. Further eggs cannot be created either.
To put things into perspective, females typically have 1-2 million eggs at birth. By puberty this typically falls to around 300,000. This then slows down and the ovarian reserve decreases by 1,000 eggs every month. With age, egg quality also degrades, making it harder for women to get pregnant. The drop in fertility is gradual and begins at age 32, although it can be exacerbated by factors such as smoking. After 35, the decline speeds up.
While the chances are lower, women are able to still have healthy pregnancies and babies. At age 40, the chances of conceiving after 3 months of trying are thought to be around 7%. Fertility treatments such as IVF and IUI can help by removing physical barriers and triggering egg release for women. However, it should be mentioned that age can affect the chances of success and that there is a greater chance of complications. Older eggs tend to have more chromosome problems so there’s an increased risk of babies being born with birth defects.
How Age Affects Male Fertility
Fertility is quite different for men as sperm can be created until senior age. However, quality decreases with time and their chances reduce as they get older. This makes conceiving a little more difficult for men over the age of 40.
There are a variety of screening tests that can evaluate fertility. To learn about your chances and the fertility treatments we’d recommend, book an appointment with our expert team.