No matter who you are talking to, including experts and doctors, everyone will tell you that there is no ‘the right time’ in your life to get pregnant. However, the fact is that, although modern medicine offers more options than it used to provide earlier, biology still has some restrictions when we talk about women’s body. That means that we, unfortunately, have the age limits when it comes to starting a family.
All things considered, there are both disadvantages and advantages to having a baby at different ages. In the 20s, we have a lot of energy to take care of a baby, but younger couples usually have a lot of financial problems. Not to mention lack of personal life experience! In the late 30s and even 40s, we have a stable career and enough money, but staying pregnant is harder.
I believe that every woman should make her own ‘Pros and Cons list’ about her pregnancy and make a decision which will depend on her affinities and life plans. We only should keep in mind that raising a child is a great obligation as much as joy. No one should take this decision without thinking and deprive the child the opportunity to grow up in a stable family and with a mom who is ready to dedicate her. No child should start her life as a ‘mistake’. Children deserve to be loved and desired!
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What Does Physiology Say?
Let’s start with the basics of physiology. Every woman is born with approximately 1 to 2 million eggs. That’s it for our lifetime, and nothing can increase this number. The fact is that this number reduces to 300,000 to maximum 500,000 by the time of our first period of puberty. After that, the situation is such that between the ages of 12 and 52 (our reproductive years) we have only up to 500 ovulations.
We have to count on the reality that not all of these eggs are healthy. Sometimes we have ovulation, but we can’t get pregnant because the egg is not prepared or vigorous for a pregnancy that particular month. All in all, we are here with only a few eggs that are frankly viable for pregnancy. Sounds horrible and pretty scary, right?
If we know that there is only one week a month when we have real odds to get pregnant, it sounds reasonable to calculate our chances of conception at every year in our lives and think about possibilities to make the most of them.
I would like to present you some of the official data in percents about the probability of conceiving. However, keep in mind that many things depend on our genetics, our health, and our family’s harmony. Statistics is here to give us insight into general information, but every woman is unique. Our organism knows how to surprise us from time to time, do you agree?
Age and Fertility Statistical Facts
The fact is that our age is the most important factor that affects the fertility. I believe that you know all these stories about our best reproductive years. Yes, the average, healthy woman can pretty quickly get pregnant in her 20s. Well, it is true, but luckily we live in the 21st century! Nowadays, with modern medicine and average life expectancy, which is higher than during previous centuries, it is possible and quite right having a healthy and successful pregnancy in our later years.
We have to face reality. The age of women’s first-time pregnancies raises almost all around the world. There are exceptions in underdeveloped countries, of course, but we can freely say that the global trend is that women give birth to babies in their later ages.
For example, the average age of first pregnancy in the US is 25, but in recent years the numbers are changing, and more women become mothers after 35. These numbers are even higher in other countries. Statistics say that in the UK women get their first baby at the age of 28, in Japan, more and more women get pregnant after 29, and this number is over 30 in Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.
Biology Has Its Own Reasons and Logic
Regardless of our wishes and career plans, we should also consider what dictates biology and our ‘biological clock’. Well, the most women reach their fertility peak rates between ages of 23 and 31. Unfortunately, after that period our fertility starts to decline, and after the 30s, average women have a 20% chance of conceiving during every cycle.
In general, it doesn’t mean that 30-year-old woman has only 20% chance of becoming pregnant. It just means that only 20 of 100 women can become pregnant in the first cycle of trying. The rest need to try again for the next cycle.
By the age of 30, our fertility drops about 3% per year. By 40s, there are only 5% chances of conceiving per cycle. These percentages represent our probabilities to become pregnant during our next period, based on our age and the number of months we have been TTC (trying to conceive).
|Age/ Number of months TTC||3||6||9||12||24||36|
In fact, the average woman can have a baby until her age of 41 without more significant problems, but I have already said that it mostly depends on genetics and our health. Some women have a baby in their 45 without troubles, but statistically, about 25% women older than 35 usually has some difficulties to become pregnant.
What Does the Menopause Have with It?
There is the misbelief that woman reaches her infertility when she goes into menopause. In fact, most of them lose an ability to have a successful pregnancy earlier. Nowadays, 51 is the average age of menopause, but the majority of women can’t have a successful pregnancy when they are 45 years old.
On the other hand, if you have a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced diet, moderate exercise, and you avoid alcohol and smoking, your odds may be increased. Even though you are at an age where your fertility is decreased, you can discuss with a fertility expert about your options.
When you are young, your body is completely ready for your pregnancy. But, are you prepared for maternity? Let’s see.
Many experts believe that this is the best decade for a woman to become a mom. When a woman is under 21, about 90% of her eggs are chromosomally normal. Plus, the average fertility peak of any woman is at the age of 24. All of that will be on your side and increase your chances of conceiving a healthy baby.
Statistics says that you have 96% chance of conceiving in one year if you are fewer than 25 and try to get pregnant each month. But, if your partner is also under 25, your chances drop to 92% because many younger couples’ fertility issues are on ‘his side’. But, don’t worry! Most of them are easily treatable.
|Age||Risk of miscarriage|
|In the 20s||10%|
|In the early 30s||12%|
|In the mid to late 30s||18%|
|In the early 40s||34%|
If you are in your 20s, your ovaries age along with the rest of your body. That means the quality of your eggs gradually deteriorated during the time. If you are under 25, it is less likely that the eggs have any genetic abnormality which can cause congenital disabilities including Down syndrome.
The risk of miscarriage is only 10%, and it is less likely for younger women to have low-birth-weight or premature babies. Also, the pregnancy is physically more comfortable if you are in your 20s. The woman probably does not have severe gynecological problems, and there is a lower risk of diabetes and high blood pressure which can make pregnancy very risky. Finally, younger women have a lower possibility of having problems with uterine fibroids.
When it is about fertility, it actually does not matter if you try to get pregnant in the early 20s or late 20s. The difference in fertility during this decade is negligible.
The biology is on your side even once the baby comes. You will probably have patience and the resilience to wake up with your baby during the night as long as necessary. You are young enough that ‘all-night-show’ will not affect your next day and you will be able to function without bigger problems.
There are even more benefits of being a mom in 20s. Many new moms in the US are in their 20s (they give birth to their first child around age 26) and you will have a lot of company on the playground. Keep in mind that younger couples are usually more flexible. That means that the transition from marriage to parenthood will be more relaxed. You will also have plenty of time to build ‘our way’ instead ‘my and your way’. Plus, you will be a young grandma one day, full of energy for your grandchildren!
Well, things are never simple. Biology is definitely on your side, but your career in the 20s is not established, and you are not accomplished professionally. With a baby, it will be tough to get back. The rat race will not wait for anybody. Even though you go back to your work after having a baby, the sad fact is that you will probably earn significantly less than before.
The reality says that women who give birth to a child in her 30s have a wider range of opportunities and higher lifetime earnings than younger mothers. If you add lack of the life experience and repayment of the college loan debts, you can see that being a mom in early 20s can be a serious problem.
Another issue can be the relationship of a young married couple. The husband has to support his young wife, and the wife has to understand that he can feel abandoned by his wife because she has to look after her baby. Unfortunately, many young couples get alienated from each other. Sometimes a misunderstanding between two of them is so significant that it can seriously affect their marriage, especially if she suffers from postpartum depression.
One more warning! While you are in the early 20s, your eggs are still too young, and your baby has higher chance to be born with Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities than you wait for a while and give birth in your late 20s. On average, 80% of children who suffer Down syndrome are born to moms under 35.
|Age||The probability of Down syndrome||The likelihood of other chromosomal abnormalities|
|The early 20s||1 in 1,667||1 in 526|
|The late 20s||1 in 1,250||1 in 476|
|The early 30s||1 in 952||1 in 385|
|The early 40s||1 in 106||1 in 66|
|By age 44||1 in 38||1 in 26|
|Over 45||1 in 30||1 in 21|
|In 48||1 in 11||1 in 8|
Women in their 30s already have a career, have the energy and the resources to have a baby, and they are emotionally ready to start a family. In the same time, they can feel pulled in different directions. Also, they usually have to decide if they can return to their work after delivering or whether they even want to.
Between ages 30 to 34, your fertility will begin to decline gradually. Some researches say that in the 30s we have about 20% chances every month to get pregnant. If a woman needs infertility treatment, the success rate of IVF (in vitro fertilization) is 25 – 28%. For comparison, if you are over 40, that rate is only 6 – 8%. No one actually knows why it happens, but women in their 30s have two times higher chances to have a cesarean section than those in the 20s.
After 35, fertility continues to decline because woman’s eggs are aging. It is the main reason why fertilization is so difficult. If you want a baby in your 35, you have to have unprotected intercourse during a whole year before starting to think about infertility treatment. For women over 35, that period should reduce to six months because there is a big difference in success rates between women in the late 30s and the early 40s. However, many clinics refuse to accept women older than 40.
If you are prepared for a baby, go for it. It is a good period, and your chances are decent to get a healthy and sweet child. Don’t wait too long if it is possible.
You should think about the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy. There are high chances (about 10 – 20%) that you will suffer that problem if you are pregnant at the age of 35. Gestational diabetes is up to three times more frequent than in women in their 20s, and it is probably connected with higher weight. Obstetricians usually practice a cesarean section when you are in your 30s to reduce stress on the fetus because of the prolonged duration of delivering.
Don’t be surprised if your doctor recommends amniocentesis if you are a pregnant woman in your late 30s, because the risks of chromosomal disorders and Down syndrome rise significantly in this age.
Believe or not, in your late 30s and early 40s you have bigger chances of having multiple births. It is not absolutely clear why this is a case, but higher hormonal stimulation of the ovaries is a likely reason. Also, if you take fertility drugs (stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs), there is a possibility of having twins or even triplets. No one knows why, but the miscarriage rate is huge 18% after the age of 35.
|Age||The live birth rates after IVF treatment|
There are no strict Pros and Cons if you decide to be a mom at this age. I will give you statistics data, but no one can describe your desire and emotions. If you feel that you want to give birth to a baby and have succeeded to become pregnant, you should be happy and expect your new baby with hope and love. No matter what anyone says, it is the only thing that is really important.
One thing I can tell you for sure; it is possible to get pregnant at 44 if you have regular periods and ovulation. You only have to know that it will take longer than in your 20s or 30s. The chances that woman in the late 40s has a baby is only 0.03%, and the possibility of successful infertility treatment is very low. Keep in mind that if you take care of yourself, you will have better chances to have a healthy baby.
It is not entirely clear why, but there is a tendency that women over 40 who get a baby without fertility drugs, tend to live longer. It is assumed that estrogen is responsible for life-lengthening effects on women’s bones and her heart. However, only about 1% of women in the early 40s have babies and the chance of becoming pregnant during the month is only 5%.
Will you be one of these women depends on your health habits, level of fitness, and whether it is your first pregnancy? If you decide to be a mom in your 40s, be prepared to be constantly tired, especially if you have elder kids in the house. The horrible things such as pressure on the bladder, hemorrhoids, sagging breasts, and prolapsed tissues in the uterus and vagina are pretty common in the mid-40s, and the pregnancy will not help.
Your muscles are stretched, and the only thing you can do about this is to avoid getting uncontrolled weight during pregnancy. And to do Kegel exercises! They can make magic.
You are an experienced, patient, and mature woman now and you are entirely emotionally prepared to raise a child. In the same time, your concerns will be higher than the women who become moms in their 20s. For example, you will have worries about your age when your child starts college. Also, you will be a mom of one teenager in your 60s! It is not easy, you know.
Well, the entire situation can be very challenging, but the decision is only yours. Actually, you will control all your Pros and Cons. You are a mature and smart woman who can estimate advantages and risks of such a decision. If a doctor says that there is no risk of any chromosomal abnormalities, take your time, think twice, and if you decide to take a challenge, I believe that you will not regret. Here is the video about different ages to get pregnant.
If you are in your early 50s, you are in menopause, and you should be aware of the fact that almost all pregnancies in this age require the assistance including hormone supplements, fertility drugs, or donor eggs. If you have ovulation and get pregnant, to maintain the pregnancy, you have to take progesterone for during first two months. If you do not have ovulation anymore, you need donor eggs to conceive. Be prepared to use progesterone and estrogen during the long period of the pregnancy, until your placenta starts to produce these hormones on its own.
To back to statistics! Once you get pregnant, if you take care of yourself and all the prenatal screening tests are negative, there is a great chance to deliver a healthy baby not regardless of your age. The rate of fetal deaths has decreased 70% since the 1960s. Take advantage of living in the 21st century!
No matter if you are in your 20s or your 50s, you should maximize your chances of conceiving. Know yourself better and discover when you exactly ovulate. Generally, no matter how long your cycle is, ovulation occurs 14 days before your next period. Try to have active intercourse minimum five days before that day and at least two days after that day. I wish you good luck. Having a baby is so precious. Experience all the beauty maternity brings to the woman and enjoy every single day both in your pregnancy and in the rest of your life with your kid.