Fertility refers to the ability to conceive, and regardless of whether you’re trying to conceive or avoid a pregnancy it’s important to know how your age impacts your fertility.
As a premier OB/GYN, Essam Taymour, MD, FACOG, and our team at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in Long Beach, California, understand the complex relationship between fertility and age and how it affects family planning, conception, and pregnancy. Here’s what you should know.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, your peak reproductive years are between your late teens and late 20s. Each month, your body releases an egg in preparation for pregnancy. Women in this age range have a 25% chance of conceiving in any given menstrual cycle.
If you’re in your 20s and aren’t ready to start a family yet, think about your family goals and review your reproductive plan each year. For example, knowing that you might consider starting a family soon — or not — can shape which type of birth control Dr. Taymour recommends for you.
Although pregnancy is possible until you reach menopause, it does become more difficult to conceive as you age.
Your fertility starts to decline in your 30s, and that decline ramps up in your mid-30s. You may have heard that expectant mothers over 35 are referred to as “advanced maternal age,” or AMA. While “advanced maternal age” doesn’t have a great ring to it, it simply refers to the natural decline in fertility at this age.
Once you’re in your 30s, the risk of premature birth and birth defects increases. Regular prenatal care and genetic screening can help detect any abnormalities.
You can continue to support your fertility in your 30s by exercising regularly, eating nutrient-dense foods, managing stress, staying hydrated, tracking your ovulation with a period tracking app, and cutting out smoking and alcohol.
If you’re actively trying to conceive, consider taking a prenatal vitamin. The folic acid in prenatal vitamins can help reduce the risk of certain birth defects, including neural tube defects.
By the time most women turn 40, their chance of conceiving in any given month drops from 25% to 10%. Fertility declines in your 40s for a few reasons:
Although the odds decrease, women can still become pregnant in their 40s. If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy and aren’t yet in menopause, you need need to use some form of contraception.
Pregnant women over age 35 are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy, such as high blood pressure. Other issues, including fibroids, can also make conception more difficult. Expectant mothers in their 30s and 40s are also more likely to experience miscarriage or stillbirth.
Although egg numbers decrease as you age, you’re also more likely to release more than one egg each month. This means that mothers over 35 are also more likely to experience a multiple pregnancy.
Despite the complications, many women in their 30s and 40s have healthy and happy pregnancies. Routine prenatal care is essential for spotting any red flags and getting them addressed quickly. Additionally, exercising regularly if you’re cleared to do so, managing stress, and eating a nutritious diet can go a long way in staying healthy during your pregnancy.
Dr. Taymour offers family planning services to women of all ages who are trying to achieve pregnancy, postpone pregnancy, or avoid it all together. If you’d like to discuss your reproductive plan, give us a call at 562-247-3038 or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.