Many women in my practice are starting to ask me this question as women are giving birth later in life as a result of their careers, economic constraints, waiting to find the right partner, or just not being sure that they want to bring a new life into this world. For all these reasons and many others, motherhood is being postponed. With this delay, we are now seeing an increasing number of women experiencing age-related infertility and pregnancy loss.
What we know in the medical world is that fertility declines progressively with age. The aging of eggs is a well-known biological phenomenon and what we refer to as our “biological clock” and it does tick louder as we approach 40 years. Fertility peaks between the age of 20 and 24 and it decreases as much as 95% in women between 40 and 45y. We are fortunate to have high tech fertility procedures that allow women the opportunity to get pregnant if they have the desire at any age.
Women over the age of 45 have a less than 1% chance of getting pregnant each month. If you pick up a People magazine or tune into Entertainment Tonight it highlights women giving birth to a child or set of twins at any age, especially those women over the age of 44 years. This is incredibly misleading to most women who do not realize the low odds of having their own biological child or what is involved in terms of cost and time using infertility service to have a child after age 35. I find it incredibly important to educate my patients on the importance of knowing what the statistics are if they want to conceive sometime in the future. I share with them and emphasize that your age is a significant factor influencing a woman’s ability to conceive.
I will educate my patients as early as 30 on the process of egg preservation, or egg freezing. Egg freezing is preserving mature eggs to achieve pregnancy at a later time in the future. This procedure preserves a woman’s fertility by delaying pregnancy electively for a number of social or medical reasons.
It is never too soon to begin the discussion with your health care provider on information regarding your future fertility.