In technical terms, a women’s childbearing age starts from the moment she gets her first period. Essentially, we can talk about fertility in women from the very beginning of puberty until menopause. In that sense, we can generally place the female reproductive years between 12 and 51 on average. Of course, as women age, the odds of conceiving also gradually lower. The ideal childbearing age is often considered to be in the late 20s and early 30s. Pregnancies later in life could come with some health risks. However, age is just one factor when it comes to giving birth to a child. The ideal timing will be different for every woman who wishes to be a mother, often based on her financial and emotional readiness.
The Effects of Age on Female Fertility
From the moment they’re born, women have all of their eggs already, which is about two million. As they grow up and age, this number gradually drops. That said, when they reach the age of 37, women are generally left with about 25,000 eggs or 1,000 eggs by the age of 51. Aside from the number of eggs, their quality also drops with age, which can significantly minimize the odds of conceiving.
What’s more, certain conditions that could lead to female infertility are also more possible the older a woman is, such as tubal disease or endometriosis, for example.
That said, the odds of conceiving start to slowly lower around 32 years of age, and between the ages of 35 and 37, this fertility decline speeds up.
How Long Does It Take to Conceive?
How long it takes to conceive also depends on women’s age a lot. Namely, if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for three months, the chances of success vary depending on your age. Consider the following estimates:
- 18% chance when you’re 25 years old
- 16% chance when you’re 30 years old
- 12% chance when you’re 35 years old
- 7% chance when you’re 40 years old
Certain factors other than age could also bring about female infertility faster, such as:
- Pelvic infections
- Cancer therapies like chemo and radiation
The Benefits of Getting Pregnant at Different Ages
In this day and age, the average childbearing age has become higher for women in their 30s and significantly lower for women in their 20s. Based on different factors, there are certain benefits to expanding a family at both later and earlier times in life.
Benefits of Getting Pregnant Later in Life
Not everyone is ready to start a family early in life. For some women, waiting to conceive is rather beneficial as this allows them to secure themselves more financially as well as establish a strong and loving relationship with the right partner. What’s more, as we age, we become more patient and knowledgeable about the world. It’s been noted that kids of “older” parents tend to be more academically accomplished as well. Interestingly, there are some health benefits to bearing a child later in life as well. For instance, women who give birth to their last child in their 40s tend to have a smaller risk of developing uterine cancer.
Benefits of Getting Pregnant Earlier in Life
Being a young mother is mostly associated with health benefits for the baby. The highest chance of conception for women is in their late 20s and early 30s. During this time, there’s also less risk involved with potential pregnancy complications.
Potential Risks of Getting Pregnant When 35 or Older
Once a woman turns 35, there’s an increase in certain pregnancy risks, such as:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight of the baby
- Stillbirth or miscarriage
- Necessity for C-section
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Placenta previa
- Bleeding heavily post-delivery
- Chromosomal issues like Down syndrome
When to See a Doctor for the Matter of Conception?
Issues with fertility are actually rather common. Every woman is different, which is why it’s not easy to give an objective answer in terms of how long it takes to conceive. If you’ve been actively trying to get pregnant for months with no success, it would be a good idea to visit a fertility specialist. Even if there are concerns with female infertility, a specialist can suggest the right kind of treatment to better pregnancy chances. For instance, University obstetrics and preconception specialists can perform the necessary tests, provide you with a customized therapy and care plan, and keep track of your health during your journey before, during, and after pregnancy.
That said, it would be rather useful to pay a visit to a fertility specialist if:
- You’re 35 or younger and weren’t able to conceive after a whole year of trying
- You’re older than 35 and weren’t able to conceive after six months of trying
- You’re 40 years old or older and would like to get pregnant
The doctor will take into account your age and other potential factors that could affect fertility before they prescribe the right kind of treatment. The most common treatment options are as follows:
- Ovulation-stimulating fertility drugs
- Surgeries that might be necessary to repair certain conditions such as blocked fallopian tubes, fibroids, and endometriosis
- Intrauterine insemination, which is a procedure where sperm gets inserted into the uterus during the ovulation period
- In vitro fertilization, which is a procedure where both egg and sperm get put together in a lab to create an embryo, which is then inserted into the uterus
- Zygote intrafallopian and gamete intrafallopian transfers, where egg and sperm or just a fertilized egg gets inserted into the fallopian tube
Tips to Improve Chances of Conception
If you have decided that you’re ready to have a child, some lifestyle and habit practices could make the whole process easier and potentially more successful.
- Being both over and underweight could impede your tries to conceive. This is why it would be best to get to your healthy weight and maintain a BMI between 19 and 24.
- Do your best to quit smoking, as this habit could cause damage to your egg supply and even increase the risk of miscarriage.
- Follow a nutritious and balanced diet. Cut out saturated fats and junk food in general as much as possible.
- Minimize your consumption of alcohol and caffeine. These beverages in excess could make it longer to conceive, but they could also increase the risk of miscarriage.
Also, the following tips can significantly better your chances of a healthy pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy child:
- If you have health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, make sure to treat them accordingly.
- Start going to preconception counseling, where the doctor can help you address any potential health issues and allow you to best prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.
- Make self-care a priority in general. You have to be responsible for your own body by following a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, having a regular sleep pattern, and avoiding toxic substances such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Even though the best odds for delivering a healthy baby involve conceiving in the late 20s and early 30s, this particular timing doesn’t work out for all women. That’s perfectly fine, and you can still improve your conception odds and ensure a healthy pregnancy later in life, especially if you take good care of yourself and visit a preconception specialist. You can always count on us at University Park OBGYN for complete pregnancy care, from preconception to delivery.