Starting a family involves many personal decisions. The exact timing is different for everyone. Things to consider involve financial, physical, and emotional readiness. Many women now are choosing to wait on starting a family, as there are many benefits to delaying child-bearing. However, age can impact fertility. Find out more about the effects of age on fertility.
Benefits and Trends in Delaying Child Birth
There are many benefits to waiting to have children. You may want time to pursue educational and occupational opportunities. Having kids later in life will help you better cope with many challenges related to pregnancy and parenting. However, increased age will make pregnancy difficult for your body. In addition, age greatly impacts fertility, egg quality, and live birth rates. Trends in childbirth include:
More women 30 years of age and older are giving birth than in past generations.
Women aged 30 to 34 years are having more children now than any other age group.
Women 35 years of age and older now account for 11% of first-time mothers.
Around 30% of first births now occur to women ages 30-34 years.
How Fertility changes with Age
A woman’s fertility begins to decline in her early to mid-thirties. The exact age of declining ovarian reserve varies from woman to woman, and there is no possible way to predict fertility decline. Women often have a low egg reserve before they even have symptoms of menopause.
The gradual decrease in fertility is usually due to a decline in the quality and number of eggs in the ovaries. The loss of eggs begins shortly after birth. A newborn infant girl has 1-2 million eggs, and by the age of menopause, only a few hundred remain.
The condition of the eggs also changes considerably with age. Older eggs have a higher rate of chromosomal anomalies, which will increase chances of early miscarriage. In addition, many non-ovarian factors affect fertility. As a woman ages, she is more likely to experience certain medical problems, including tubal disease, uterine fibroids, polyps, and endometriosis. These conditions also impact fertility.
Can Fertility Treatments Help?
Several medical technologies now are available for older women who wish to conceive. Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are used for age-related fertility decline. The best fertility treatment depends on the medical history and age of the woman, and it is important to understand the pros and cons of each procedure before making a choice.
Ovarian hyperstimulation – This involves taking oral or injectable medication to stimulate the ovaries to release more eggs than normal. This increases your chance of getting pregnant. This fertility treatment is recommended first for older women.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) – After failing on two cycles of ovarian hyperstimulation, IVF is recommended for older women. IVF has higher pregnancy and live birth rates than most forms of ART. With this procedure, eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory setting. The resulting embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus.
Egg donation – An egg can be provided by a younger female donor. Once the woman’s eggs are fertilized using IVF technology, the embryos can be transferred to the recipient female’s uterus. This is an effective treatment for women who have few eggs remaining due to age. Egg donation live birth rates are significantly higher than ovarian hyperstimulation and IVF alone.