If you’re having a difficult time conceiving after a certain age, you’re not alone. Across the human race, everyone’s fertility declines with age. The natural cycle of aging affects us all, with some being affected differently than others. Having a family can feel like part of that natural cycle, but it’s important to be mindful of the best and easiest time to start a family.
It’s important to be aware of how your body changes with age. Edward J. Ramirez, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified OB/GYN, and infertility and fertility preservation specialist here at The Fertility & Gynecology Center - Monterey Bay.
Whether you are ready to try for a pregnancy now, or whether you’re planning for years into the future, Dr. Ramirez can provide guidance when you need it most.
Humans become fertile during puberty. This is a time of middle school, new friendships, and learning about the changes happening in our bodies. Girls (children assigned female at birth) typically begin to develop feminine traits, like breasts and more defined hips, and will generally start their menstrual cycle. Body hair also grows or becomes thicker.
While girls typically start puberty between ages 8-13, boys (children assigned male at birth) will usually begin puberty between ages 9-14. While puberty in girls usually stops around age 15 or 16, while it can last through age 17 in boys.
Boys grow taller, broader, and sprout body hair on their faces and bodies. Their limbs, hands, and feet might grow at a faster rate then the rest of their bodies, but this will usually balance as they continue to grow. During this time, boys start to produce sperm.
Girls are born with all of the eggs they will have, and eggs are lost every year of a woman’s life, lessening her fertility. This doesn’t mean that puberty is a good time to get pregnant, but it does mean that the best time is still ahead for pubescent children.
The 20s are peak reproductive years, meaning, this is the best and easiest time to get pregnant, and have a baby. Women in their 20s have a roughly 1 in 4 chance of getting pregnant within three months of unprotected intercourse. At this time, women typically have around 300,000 eggs left.
A healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant in any given month. But by 40, this drops to about a 5% chance of successfully conceiving.
Women can get pregnant into their 40s, but there are several caveats. After age 35, fertility begins to decline rapidly, and older mothers are at increased risk of pregnancy complications, like preeclampsia. Older women are more likely to have pre-existing health issues, like high blood pressure.
The eggs of a younger woman also tend to be healthier. Older women tend to produce lower-quality eggs, with the likelihood of abnormal chromosomes or miscarriage rising with age.
If you’re having a hard time starting a family, we have options that may be able to help you, such as in vitro fertilization. Contact our office in Monterey, California. You can call or book an appointment online.