The impact of age

It’s generally considered less than polite to ask a lady her age. But in the world of fertility, it will be the number one question you’re asked. That’s because female age is one infertility factor we can do little to combat. While Hollywood might be telling you a different story (hint - don’t believe everything you read), our experience shows that conceiving and giving birth using your own eggs after the age of 45 is extremely rare.

Now that’s obviously the upper end of the age conversation and you might be thinking, “I’m 10 years younger than that so I’m fine”. Unfortunately, and we’re not trying to be alarmist when we say this, fertility actually peaks at 22 and gradually declines from then on. Unfortunately the decline picks up pace and begins to be an issue from 33 or so, falling even more dramatically after 35.

Age works against fertility in several ways. It increases the likelihood you’ll suffer from problems with ovulation or your cycle and it also impacts on the health and number of eggs you have.

As your age advances beyond approximately 33, it’s more and more likely that your aging eggs will let the side down when it comes to conception. At first this will just be sporadically, but eventually it will be so thorough that you’ll essentially be sterile. And that can happen years before menopause. You see, the issue is that you are born with all of the eggs you’ll ever have - approximately two million and by the time of your first period, that number will have dropped to approximately 300,000. Not only is the number of eggs you have falling as you get older but the quality of the ones you have left also diminishes.

From our own research we’ve found that many couples wait for more than two years before seeking fertility treatment. The problem with that is that if you’re 36 and you decide to wait for the average time, you’ll be 38 by the time you seek treatment and your chances of conceiving could have declined.

The bottomline is - don’t wait! Get checked out to make sure there isn’t a medical issue that no amount of waiting will fix.

Impact of age on fertility

As you can see from the graph below, by the time you’re 36 your chance of conceiving per month is decreased by half - and that’s if there are no other factors at play. The downward slope continues until by age 45 the average natural fertility rate per month is approximately one per cent.

The #1 piece of advice our patients pass on to people trying to conceive is to ask for help earlier. Genea's Fertility Specialists are experts in helping people conceive and seeing one is not a fast track to IVF - in fact we help more than 50% our patients have a baby with fertility treatments other than IVF.


The good news
Fertility after 40
When to seek help getting pregnant

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