The Journey to Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be difficult for women in any age group, but scientifically, women over the age of 35 deal with the most struggle to conceive. Research shows that as women age, egg quality and quantity decline. Therefore, women in this age group need to be aware of the additional barriers that can make conception difficult.
1. A decrease in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus is an important part of the conception process. This fluid produced by the cervix protects sperm while traveling through the birth canal to the eggs. Mucus production is stimulated by the estrogen hormone and peaks during ovulation. During this period, the cervical fluid is called egg white cervical mucus due to texture and color. Throughout the menstrual cycle, fluid production ebbs and flows. For women age 35 and older, fluid production may steadily decline.
2. Egg quality diminishes
As women age, so do the body’s eggs. Women are born with millions of eggs and these eggs last for the woman’s entire life. Eggs do not regenerate. The eggs rest in the ovaries, lying dormant until the menstrual cycle starts. Each month the body releases an unfertilized egg. By the time a woman reaches the 30s, the amount of eggs stored in the ovaries greatly decreases. Furthermore, the eggs left in the ovaries have aged and may now have abnormal chromosomes.
3. Lifestyle choices affect fertility
A person’s lifestyle contributes to conception rates. People that drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have a poor diet, smoke, and are overweight are more likely to struggle with pregnancy. These factors impact older women more than younger women because the body naturally deteriorates over time and negative lifestyle choices speed up the process of aging.
4. Miscarriage risks increase with age
A woman’s risk of miscarriage also increases with age. According to research, women 35 and older experience more miscarriages than women in the 20s and early 30s. Again, chromosomal abnormalities are to blame for most miscarriages. Issues with the uterus and cervix can also lead to miscarriage.
5. Uterine fibroids and cysts
Uterine fibroids and cysts are the results of abnormal cell growth within the uterus. Excess cells and tissue gather together to form a fibroid or cyst and these growths contribute to miscarriages and other fertility issues. Women over the age of 35 are more likely to develop abnormal uterine growths.
How can a doctor help?
Most women are unaware of fertility issues until a doctor performs some tests. Speak to a healthcare provider to discuss fertility and find treatment options.