How age impacts fertility
For the average woman, the reproductive years when a woman can conceive are usually between ages 12-51. Reproductive years also coincide with when a woman first begins menstruation to when a woman enters menopause. Fertility experts generally recommend that most women start attempting to conceive between the late 20s and early 30s. After the age of 35, a woman’s chance of conceiving within three months of trying begins to drop.
How long can pregnancy be delayed?
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is increasingly common for women to wait until age 35 before attempting to conceive for the first time. Typical reasons are a desire to pursue professional ambitions as well as waiting longer to marry or find a life partner. But even the percentages of first-time pregnancies for women in older age ranges such as 40-44 have increased in the last decade. Even a 50-something woman can conceive and have a successful and safe pregnancy.
What is a geriatric pregnancy?
Hearing the phrase geriatric pregnancy can sound alarming and frustrating. However, the phrase simply refers to any pregnancy that occurs after a woman has turned 35. Today physicians use the phrase advanced maternal age. While pregnancy after age 35 isn’t inherently dangerous, a woman should be aware that there are potential fertility and gestational risks.
Why is pregnancy after 35 difficult?
Not every woman will experience fertility or pregnancy complications after the age of 35. But, a significant concern with older pregnancies is fertility. Often, women will spend more time trying to conceive because after 35, the ovaries may release fewer eggs, and the eggs may not be as viable. But once a pregnant woman is under the care of an OB/GYN, the physician will closely monitor a woman’s health to minimize the following potential risks:
- Premature birth
- Gestational diabetes
- Chromosomal defects
But is it always risky?
Society puts undue pressure on women to fear pregnancy after the age of 35. However, the truth is pregnancy after 35 doesn’t have to be scary. To minimize risks, women should prioritize health before getting pregnant. Experts agree that, barring any underlying pre-existing health conditions, the healthier a woman is before conceiving, the fewer risks that may occur during the pregnancy, regardless of age. A 20- or 30-something woman seeking to delay pregnancy should speak with a physician or fertility specialist to discuss any concerns or viable conception options, as well as outline a plan to stay healthy until the time is right.
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