Did you know that as women age, fertility starts to drop?
Today, many women are now waiting until their 30s to conceive. While the timing of when to start a family is a personal decision, as women age, it can become more difficult to conceive and pregnancy may be considered high risk.
When deciding to have children in your mid-30s or later, it’s essential to understand how age affects your fertility and what medical technologies and treatments can do to help.
How does age affect fertility?
Peak reproductive years begin in your late teens and extend into your late 20s. By the time you’re in your 30s, fertility starts to decline. However, many women have gone on to have healthy pregnancies later in life.
Why does a woman’s fertility decline with age?
Women are born with a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries, and, as they age, the amount and quality of those eggs decrease. However, this does vary from woman to woman.
Furthermore, as women age, they are more likely to experience other medical issues which can reduce the chances of fertility, such as:
- Tubal disease
Are there any risks associated with later childbearing?
While many women who have children later in life have healthy and happy pregnancies, some women who conceive in their late 30s and 40s are at a greater risk for developing pregnancy complications. Some of these complications can affect your health and the health of your baby.
As you age, you’re at a greater risk for the following complications during pregnancy:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Congenital disabilities
How do providers assess risk during pregnancy?
There are a couple ways providers can assess your risk during pregnancy.
Prenatal screening tests
Prenatal screening tests assess the risk of your child being born with congenital disabilities or genetic disorders.
Prenatal diagnostic tests
Prenatal diagnostic tests check whether or not the baby has a specific defect or disorder. Examples include genetic diseases like spina bifida or Down syndrome, and inherited diseases such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease.
Learn more about all of our pregnancy services to ensure you have a healthy and happy pregnancy.
Are there any ways to help preserve fertility?
You may not be sure if you want children now, and that’s okay. However, keep in mind that there is no guarantee that your fertility can be preserved. But if you think you may want to start a family in the future, you still have some options.
Options for those struggling with fertility include:
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Freezing your embryos (oocyte cryopreservation)
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
IVF treatment combines sperm with a woman’s eggs in a laboratory setting to help facilitate fertilization. Although not all IVF treatments result in fertilization, if the sperm does successfully fertilize the egg(s), the egg(s) may be able to be implanted back into the uterus.
Freezing your embryos
Oocyte cryopreservation is the technical term for freezing your eggs. This procedure involves removing several eggs and freezing them. Many of these frozen eggs are saved and then later used for IVF. This procedure can be helpful for women who have undergone cancer treatment such as radiation.
Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction where parents work with a gestational surrogate to help carry their baby or babies until birth. Many parents use surrogacy to help grow their families when they cannot do so on their own.
If you are having trouble conceiving, speak with a provider to discuss your options.
Thinking about adding to your family? Consult a Metro OBGYN provider
While delaying pregnancy until later may make it more difficult to conceive and the pregnancy may be considered high risk, Metro OBGYN is prepared to help you through it every step of the way.
Despite the challenges, many women have healthy pregnancies after 35, and taking care of yourself before, during, and after becoming pregnant is key.
The best way to do this is by:
- Scheduling a preconception appointment with your provider
- Attending regular prenatal appointments
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Staying active
If you’re planning on adding to your family, schedule an appointment with a provider at Metro OBGYN to discuss your options.