Many women are not aware of certain reproductive facts and that “their biological clock is ticking away”. These concepts only come into prominence when a couple plans out their pregnancy. “One should keep in mind that fertility is ageist for both men and women and its understanding is pivotal because it helps in conception, baby’s health, and making informed choices during pregnancy,” said Dr. Sonia Malik, program director, Nova Southend Fertility & IVF, New Delhi.
How age affects women’s fertility as compared to men?
Men and women’s fertility with age has a different effect on their bodies. A woman is born with a certain number of eggs that only get depleted over a period of time, and she can’t produce any more eggs. But in the case of a man, he can produce sperms his entire life. Therefore, it signifies the women’s pregnancy health window is short as compared to men’s, who can even father a child in their 60s and 70s. So, let’s have a look at fertility across different age groups:
Fertility in their 20s:
According to experts, this is the perfect age group for a woman to have a healthy pregnancy. This is the age when women are most fertile. The difference in fertility in their early 20s and late 20s are almost negligible.
Some of the great advantages of pregnancy during this age group are:
*As your eggs have lesser odds of carrying genetic abnormalities, the chances of your child having any genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, Thalassemia, etc. is minimal
*The risk of miscarriage lays only 10 per cent
*Less likely that you will have a premature baby or baby with low birth weight
*Even the mother has a lower risk of any health complications like gestational diabetes or hypertension.
The disadvantages of this phase are:
*In the first pregnancy, the risk of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication, becomes higher
*If you have PCOD or uterine fibroids or any underlying medical condition, achieving a pregnancy is complicated.
*”If at all infertility has been diagnosed in a man, then it’s all because of his lifestyle choices that lead to obesity, hypertension, contraction of any sexually transmitted infection, and diabetes. This can be reversed in the case of men by altering lifestyle choices. Sexually Transmitted Infections in men affect the motility and concentration of sperms,” said Dr Mallik.
Fertility in their 30s
If a woman wants to conceive in this phase of her life, then the chances of expecting are between 15 and 20 percent each month provided they don’t have any underlying health conditions. A study has confirmed that women in 30s have 30 percent chances of conceiving on their first try. But, fertility tends to decline when a woman reaches 35 because of the decreased quality and quantity of the eggs. Even the chances of conceiving naturally after 35 are also minimal. The increased level of the follicle-stimulating hormone in a female body makes her more prone to having twins or triplets.
The risks of conceiving in the 30s are:
Higher C-section rates
Higher chances of genetic issues in the newborn
Increased rates of miscarriages and stillbirths
Elevated risks of ectopic pregnancy
Fertility in your 40s and beyond:
In the case of a woman, it’s not impossible to conceive at this age but one should take notice of the fact that during each ovulatory cycle, the pregnancy rate dips to 5 per cent between 40 and 44, whereas beyond 45, it gets reduced to 1 per cent. According to the Center for Disease Control, half of the women across the globe undergo fertility issues in 40s. The risk factors of conceiving remain the same as it is in their 30s. Since there are risk factors involved, there is no guarantee that a female can conceive for sure. Even a man’s fertility also declines in this age group as the sperm count and semen volume also decrease. But, one should not give up hope and consult a fertility expert at the right time.
Ultimately, the perfect time to get pregnant is when you feel it’s the right time for you. It’s completely fine if want to feel more confident in your career and finances to start building your family. If you do choose to wait, do consult with your doctor or a fertility specialist to make sure no health issues will come as surprise once you’re ready. The fertility expert will not only help you know your ovarian reserve but can also suggest ways like home insemination, IVF, or IUI, and means to preserve your fertility till you are ready to become a mother.