Fertility is Not Just a Woman’s Issue

I wish everyone knew that fertility is not just a woman’s issue. Thanks to the availability of contraception and reproductive technology, couples have even more control over when to start their families than in the past.

When couple’s choose to delay conception there can be a correlation in the delay or decline in their fertility. Making it harder to get pregnant.  Additionally having a baby later in life can increase the risk for some pregnancy complications.   When planning lives or families, it’s important to know that women are half as fertile at age 30 as they were at 20. And 1/4 as fertile at 35 making them 1/8 as fertile at 40 than when they were 20.

Statistically, according to the 2007 statistics for the United States, 1 million babies are born to women aged 20 to 24, 1 million are born to women 25 to 29, and under 1 million are born to women 30 to 34, with a half-million born to women 35 to 39 with numbers further decreasing.

In your twenties:

Women are most fertile in their twenties and have the greatest chance of getting pregnant, as this is the time when you have the greatest number of healthy eggs available and your pregnancy risks are lowest. At age 25, your odds of conceiving after four to five months of regular intercourse are just under 20 percent.


In your thirties:

Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, about 1-2 million of them. The number of eggs gradually drops over time. This drop-in fertility starts around age 32. After age 35, that decline speeds up and by age 37, it’s estimated that you’ll have around 25,000 eggs left and it can take twenty or more months of regular intercourse to conceive.

By age 35, your odds of conceiving after 3 months of trying are about 12 percent  Additionally the risk for miscarriage and genetic abnormalities also begin to significantly after age 35. This may increase the likelihood of complications in your pregnancy or during delivery. Due to this, your provider might recommend additional screening and tests for you and your baby.


In your Forties:

The likelihood of getting spontaneously pregnant at 40 is about 5%, 3% for 41-year-olds, and 2% for 42-year-olds.  Many women in their forties can have healthy pregnancies and babies, but the risks of cesarean birth, premature birth, birth defects, and stillbirth increase. Forty-year-old bodies are additionally taxed and can develop medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia. To avoid and manage these potential complications your provider will be doing extra testing and monitoring of you and your baby.

Male fertility also drops in the forties as they start to have a lower sperm count. Also, the sperm of older men are weaker swimmers and are more likely to have age-related genetic abnormalities.


Fertility Treatments:

If you are under 35 and have not conceived after a year of trying, or over 35 and you have been trying to conceive for over six months, you may have fertility issues.  By visiting with your provider or a fertility specialist you may be able to determine why and what the next steps are.

However, the average cost of fertility treatment for a 20-year-old is $25,000. $35,000 for a 35-year-old and after that the numbers go up significantly. I have seen research that a 42-year-old can spend as much as $300,000 in fees before their first conception. Today as many as one in five 40-year-old women are childless.

That said, there is no right way to get pregnant. Rather many factors need to be taken into consideration.  Some of them may be your age, your and your partner’s health, your support system, your financial readiness, and your beliefs about birth.

If you do choose to wait, you may want to check in with your provider for a health assessment to make sure there are no underlying health issues that could hinder you when you are ready to conceive.

You may also want to investigate extra birth support from a doula to help you with your body the most effective in pregnancy, birth, and the immediate postpartum.