Starting a family is a huge decision that involves many different factors. One of those factors is the woman’s fertility. While being older doesn’t make having children impossible, it can affect the chances of getting pregnant. We spoke to the fertility experts at ORM Fertility and here are some of the main things you may want to consider when trying to conceive.
In Your Twenties
In your twenties your eggs are the most fertile, however, many women aren’t prepared to have children at this age. Sometimes this is due to not having found the right partner or not being where they would like to be in their education or career.
If you are not ready to conceive in your twenties, the majority of women can still have success with conception in their thirties. Egg health and fertility decline very little between the age of twenty and thirty, however, if it’s something that you are worried about, you may consider freezing your eggs in your twenties to use at a later time.
If you want to see if this is a necessary option for you, there are some tests that you can do to determine your egg health and if you will be likely to conceive easily when you are older. These include simple blood tests or ultrasound.
In Your Thirties
You should know that if you wait until your thirties to attempt conception the chance of success declines a little as you get older. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), in a woman’s early thirties there is a twenty percent chance of success at conception for each menstrual cycle. The percentage goes down to a fifteen percent chance of success at age thirty-five and decreases to as little as five percent when women are approaching forty. A woman’s older age also increases the chances of miscarriage and other complications during both pregnancy and birth.
If you are under thirty-five years old and have failed to conceive after twelve months of trying, and if you are over thirty-five years old and have failed to conceive after six months of trying, you may want to contact a professional health care provider. They can help evaluate your situation with different tests and give you options should there be a physical reason you are not conceiving.
Despite a few possible bumps in the road, it’s completely realistic for a woman to have a healthy strong baby throughout their thirties.
In Your Forties
If you’re in your forties and considering conception, a good first step is a visit with an infertility specialist. They can help by suggesting different tests to determine the possibility of conception and risks. IVF (In vitro fertilization) may be a possibility or using a donor egg or embryo.
Things to Keep in Mind
There are several things that you should do to increase your chances of conceiving, no matter your age.
- Make sure to maintain a healthy diet
- Take prenatal vitamins including folic acid
- Use caffeine in moderation (less than 250 mg per day)
- Both partners should not smoke
- Both partners should avoid alcohol consumption
Also, monitoring your menstrual cycle is important. A normal menstrual cycle occurs every twenty-four to thirty-five days. If for some reason your menstrual cycle isn’t regular, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibilities of getting pregnant. There may be a reason behind your irregular periods that can be treated to help you conceive.
If you have infertility issues there are several different possibilities to look at besides freezing your eggs. One method is the use of different medications to cause the ovaries to release more eggs. There is also IUI (Intrauterine insemination) where the eggs are artificially inseminated inside the uterus. There is also IVF (In vitro fertilization) which is a process where the eggs are stimulated to mature rapidly, removed from the uterus, and then fertilized and grown in a laboratory for several days before being returned to the uterus to continue growing inside the mother.
One thing to think about is that as you age the risk increases for chromosomal abnormalities. Because of this, additional testing is recommended to make sure there are no genetic abnormalities.
There are genetic diseases to consider as well. In order for a baby to be diagnosed with these diseases, the baby would need to receive two genes from the parents. One gene comes from the egg and the other from the sperm. If one parent only carries one of the genes, they would not be aware they are a carrier. If both prospective parents carry the genes there will be more risks to consider when trying to conceive a child because the two genes when put together cause the disorder. Cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy are two such diseases.
“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or the ACOG recommends that all women trying to conceive to be offered preconception genetic carrier screening for cystic fibrosis and spinal muscular atrophy.”
While trying to prepare for conception can seem like a daunting task, stay positive. Despite the many challenges ahead, there are many resources and medical professionals waiting to help you through this process. Remember that it may take time and you may have to be patient to get the desired results, but it’s always worth it in the end.