It seems so arbitrary and old-fashioned. Why should women worry about a “ticking clock” when planning their families? If you eat whole foods, exercise, and manage stress, can’t you maintain your fertility way past age 35?
At age 35, you’re probably better emotionally and financially equipped to support and raise a child than you were at 20. Your life is probably more stable, too.
Medical professionals also tend to focus more on older mothers in the hopes that increased care reduces the risks of complications. In fact, a 2021 study published in JAMA found that women over age 35 had better prenatal care and pregnancy outcomes than younger women.
So, with all the advantages that age and wisdom bring, why doesn’t your fertility keep pace? At Enrich Family Practice, our expert nurse practitioners want you to have a healthy baby at any age. But if you’re over 35, you may have challenges with infertility. Here’s why.
Eggs dwindle every year
When you were still in your mother’s womb, your tiny fetal ovaries contained around six million eggs. By the time she gave birth to you, however, you only had one million left.
Once you reach puberty and begin menstruating, you only have about 300,000 eggs between your two ovaries. However, most eggs won’t mature because they’re not viable.
Also, each month, about 1,000 eggs compete for the “honor” of being the one to mature and be released. So, every month, you lose about 1,000 eggs from your store.
Even if you take birth control and supplements, you still lose about 1,000 eggs a month. Your fertility starts to decline at age 30 and then accelerates after age 35. By 40, you’re down to fewer than 100,000 eggs. And, again, each month, you lose about 1,000.
Eggs age, too
Just as you notice changes in your skin and hair as you age, every part of your inner organs age, including your ovaries and the eggs they contain. Not only do you have fewer eggs, but the remaining eggs may not have the capacity to become a baby.
Your eggs are more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities as you age. Even if you get pregnant, you’re at increased risk for miscarriage since chromosomal abnormalities cause most miscarriages.
Other problems may develop
You’re more likely to develop problems with your other reproductive organs over age 35, too. For instance, you’re at greater risk for endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Fibroids usually continue to grow until you reach menopause, so if you were diagnosed with fibroids at 30, they might be substantially larger at age 35.
You’re also more at risk for complications during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes or a stillbirth. You may also be more at risk for a cesarean section.
Men’s fertility declines, too
Men continue to produce sperm throughout their lifespans, which may seem unfair. However, they also experience a loss of fertility with time. It takes a man over age 40 longer to impregnate a partner than he would at 20.
If both partners are under 25, it takes an average of five months of unprotected sex before the woman becomes pregnant. However, if the woman is 25 and her partner is 40, it could take two years before she becomes pregnant. It takes even longer if he’s over 45.
You may need help
When you’re over age 35 and haven’t become pregnant within six months of trying, you and your partner should undergo a complete fertility workup. Depending on our findings, we may recommend treatments that increase the odds of your becoming pregnant, such as:
- Intrauterine insemination
If you’re over age 35 and haven’t gotten pregnant, or if you’re younger and suspect that you’re infertile, contact us by phone at 432-200-9052 for fertility evaluation and treatments today. You can also use our online form.