How does age affect fertility?


According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, becoming pregnant after age 35 years can present a challenge. Also, having a child later in life has certain risks. These risks may affect a woman’s health as well as her baby’s health. For example:

  • Pregnancy may take longer. Women become less fertile as they age because they begin life with a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries. This number decreases as they grow older. Eggs also are not as easily fertilized in older women as they are in younger women. Problems that can affect fertility, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids, become more common with increasing age as well.
  • Risk of chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down syndrome) is higher.
  • Risk of gestational diabetes is increased. This type of diabetes occurs only during pregnancy. Tight control of blood sugar through diet and exercise is essential. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause a baby to grow too large, which increases the risk of problem during delivery.
  • A multiple pregnancy (such as having twins) is more likely.
  • Risk of miscarriage is higher.
  • Chances of a C-section are increased. Older mothers have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that may lead to a C-section delivery.

If you’re older than age 35 and haven’t been able to conceive for 6 months, consider asking your care provider for advice.

For statistics and charts, see Wikipedia on this topic. (Click the link)

 

What tests are available to screen for birth defects in the fetus?

Diagnostic tests are available for some inherited defects and many chromosomal disorders. They include a targeted ultrasound exam, amniocentesis, and chorionic villus sampling.

 


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