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Age and fertility

Age and fertility
June 17
12:43 2013

Age and fertility: are they related and how

You doubt you might be old to be pregnant- Find the facts.

Late marriages are the latest trend. The number of women getting married in their late thirties and forties has almost doubled in a decade. There are various reasons for this delay. If you are also planning to get married in your late thirties or forties and your mom and grand mom are concerned with this decision of yours? Then one reason behind their worry and anger must be how late marriage and increased age will make your pregnancy difficult.

Age and fertility has always been a reason of debate. Some people believe aging has adverse effects on fertility, while there are some examples (celebrities all across)that women have been able to deliver a healthy baby even in their forties. Let’s try and find out, how age and fertility are related.

Fertility changes with age. Both males and females become fertile in their teens. For girls the period or menstruation is the obvious sign that she is ready to get pregnant. It is generally believed that after menopause women are no longer able to conceive. Generally, reproductive potential lessens as women age and fertility can end 5 to 10 years before menopause (age of menopause differs from woman to woman). It is essential to understand that fertility decreases,as women grow older. The key reason is that the eggs in the ovaries of women decrease in the number as they age. This decline may happen much sooner than most women expect.

Fertility in aging Woman:

Woman’s healthier reproductive years are in her 20s. Fertility slowly reduces in the 30s, particularly after 35 years. Each month that a completely fertile woman of age 30 tries who is healthy has 20% chance of conceiving. By age 40, the percentage falls down to less than 5%. American Society for Reproductive Medicine says these percentages are correct for natural conception as well as conception using fertility treatment. The average age for menopause is 51, but women also find it hard or impossible to have a successful pregnancy in their mid 40s. This is due to decline in both quality and quantity of eggs.

Fertility in aging Man:

Totally unlike, early decline in fertility seen in women, a man’s decrease in sperm characteristics happen much later. Quality of sperm weakens to some extent, as men get older. Nevertheless,the changes in fertility of men are not as abrupt or noticeable as the changes in women. Moreover, there is no maximum age at which a man can’t father a baby. With younger partners,men can father a child even in their 60s and 70s. As men age, their testicles are likely to get smaller and softer. Also decline in sperm shape and mobility can be seen.Furthermore, the risk of gene defect in men’s sperm increases with age.

They can develop medical illness that affects their reproductive and sexual function adversely. However, not all men are likely to experience these changes, especially men who took good care of their health throughout. Some men can experience loss in libido or erections, in such instances consultation with doctor can prove helpful. Low level of testosteronecan lead to decreased libido.

Problems one might face when trying to conceive in later years:

  1. When trying to conceive in mid 30s, there are more chances of having multiple pregnancy(It is thought that as you age your body has to produce more follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to make you ovulate, the over production of FSH can result in more than one follicle ripening and releasing an egg, this can lead to fertilization of more than one egg and more than one baby)
  2. Conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure develop more commonly in women who conceive after age 35.
    Also there are higher chances of conceiving non-identical twins
  3. The decrease in male fertility can affect the health of the children they may go on to have.
  4. Increased chances of miscarriage

Why ovulation problems can happen as you get older:

  1. Number of egg in ovaries decreases with age. Lower quality eggs make conception difficult. Kits are available that can help you find the quantity of eggs in your ovaries. However, they don’t provide any information about quality of eggs.
  2. Menopause can happen earlier than usual in a few women, so they stop ovulating before they are 40.
  3. Your periods can become irregular. As a woman reaches menopause her periods may decrease. This can also make ovulation irregular.

Conditions that can affect fertility:

  1. Infection or any other medical condition can result in blockages to the fallopian tubes
  2. Condition that has not been treated like Chlamydia infection. It can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease, which could have blocked your fallopian tubes.
  3. Endometriosis can also damage fallopian tubes to thicken with scar tissue.
  4. Fibroids can also be one cause of infertility in women. It is more common in women over 30.
  5. Overweight can also make it more difficult to get pregnant. Losing weight can also help you conceive if you have PCOS.

As women get older fertility naturally decreases. Nevertheless, the time and rate of decline and progression vary immensely from woman to woman, but always starts before menopause. Women who choose to get pregnant later in their age should get information on apt diagnosis and treatment. Lots of infertility treatment regimes are also available; however, the success rate again varies from woman to woman. Learning about all the options and understanding your body in a better way can help you plan your actions accordingly.


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