Age and fertility

Advice on the relationship between age and fertility - how much does your age impact your chances of conceiving when you are trying for a baby?
As a society in general we are leaving it later and later to have children; the fact that the average age for women to have their first baby has risen from 26 to 29.4 in the last ten years is testament to this. Whereas our parents generation would have been happy to start families in their early 20s, times have changed so much that now making the decision to reproduce at what is actually the biologically optimum time is almost looked down upon.

Women are actually born with all the eggs they will ever have in their ovaries and while this is almost a million at birth, due to natural atrophy this number has already reduced to approximately 300,000 by the start of puberty. During each menstrual cycle several eggs are prepared at a time although only 1 tends to be released. This means that unlike men who continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, the period during which women are able to conceive is unfortunately finite.

While there are many benefits to leaving babies til later in life - career advancement, financial stability and more life experience to name a few - many women do not realise that by leaving it til later they may be compromising their ability to have the children they want.

Statistically a 20 year old has approximately a 20 - 25% chance of conceiving during each menstrual cycle, with the vast majority of this age group conceiving within one year of trying. After the age of 25 fertility begins to gradually decline with the chance of conceiving each cycle reducing to 10% by the age of 35. After 35 fertility does begin to decline more rapidly as there are fewer high quality eggs remaining in the ovaries and as hormonal and reproductive conditions become less favourable. However, many women do manage to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy well into their 40s.

Those trying to conceive over the age of 35 are recommended to leave less time before seeking help from their doctor than those under this age as this enables any fertility issues to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Regardless of the statistics the best advice that you can take when you are trying for a baby whether you are 20 or 40 is to relax, have lots of regular sex, eat a well balanced diet, take moderate exercise and avoid cigarettes and alcohol as the healthier you are the more likely you will be to fall pregnant with a healthy baby.

Again, whatever your age it is advisable to visit your doctor for a health check before you start trying for a baby as this will help to ensure your body is in the best of health for baby making.


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I am 23. Previously I have been bulimic, however I am fully recovered (probably too much as I weigh 12stone!) and that was 2 years ago.
I am married to my wife and in March we are hoping to try to get me pregnant using a sperm donor. What is the likely hood of me conceiving first time?
by laurajay333 5th Oct 2010, 5:16pm
Trying for a baby can be emotionally exhausting when each month brings more disappointment and frustration. Other feelings such as despair and jealousy are also very common. I am a retired midwife working at Healing Thyme in Whitchurch, Shropshire and have found several things very helpful in assisting couples to achieve their dream. Check your lifestyle is the best it can be for conception and that you are both taking the recommended supplements such as Folic Acid.
Try to make sex fun and find some form of Relaxation. I give my clients Reflexology, Send Reiki to them and use the Dr. Bach Flower Remedies orally to heal their emotions. The Dr. Bach Centre says that the remedies are safe during pregnancy and I mix the flowers to match each clients personality. Please try some of these methods. Good Luck, hope you get pregnant soon. Sheila Elmer, Therapist and retired midwife.
by helper 14th May 2010, 5:22pm
im 20years and i had a miscarriage with identical twins when i was 18. my husband is 23years but he smokes. i don't drink or smoke and eat healthy. how long might i expect to wait before becoming pregnant. with my previous pregnancy i became pregnant after the first time we even had sex
by iieice 30th Dec 2009, 9:58am
LittleMissSuzie, i would say its a good chance of getting pregnant at 17 as lots of 14-19 year olds are having children these days. So i would say that your sure to get pregnant. If not the first time, keep trying. I know you'll get lucky! Good luck :) x
by Teashaa 19th Sep 2009, 5:42pm
im 17 and my partner and i are planning for a baby how do i know what percent i have of getting pregnant
by LittleMissSuzie 26th Aug 2009, 11:15am
I am a 37 (almost 38 to be honest) year old woman. fit and healthy. I have 2 children from my previous marriage aged 16 and 13 and now trying to conceive for a third time with my new extremely gorgeous and YOUNG fit husband to be. We have been 'trying' for about 6 months with no luck as yet. I only have 1 ovary due to a ruptured cyst a few years ago. I really want to have a baby with the love of my life more than anything, what do you think our chances are? honestly please! I really don't need false hopes! Is there anyone out there who has been in my position or similar and been blessed with a bundle of joy to make their family more complete?
by alwayswright 16th Jul 2007, 9:08am