Age and Infertility

A concern for many women entering their 30s and beyond is when their fertility potential will begin to decline.

Studies show conclusively that older women suffer more fertility problems than younger women. In our society especially, where women pursue rewarding careers and often delay childbearing in the process, deciding when to pursue pregnancy while facing a ticking “biological clock” can be a daunting choice.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently updated its committee opinion, stating that women’s fertility begins to decrease gradually but significantly beginning at approximately age 32 and decreases more rapidly after age 37. Women older than 35 should receive an expedited fertility evaluation and undergo treatment¬† after six months of failed attempts to conceive. In women older than 40 years, more immediate evaluation and treatment are warranted.

The figure below from ACOG shows fertility rates by 5-year age groups:
age chart

While there is no single age that represents a “fertility deadline,” conclusive data shows that the chances of achieving pregnancy is linked with age and decreases with increased age. However, the rate of this decline is relatively modest up until the early 30s. The reasons for this are many, but they center around the concept that increasing maternal age is generally associated with a decline in both the number of eggs and the quality of those eggs.

It’s important for women to understand the effect of age on fertility, especially when they would like to plan a family. In most cases, an evaluation performed by an infertility expert can shed light on the “ovarian reserve,”¬† a term used to describe how many eggs are available on a monthly basis. In many instances, other problems are also diagnosed during such an evaluation to increase non-age related issues that may be causing problems.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our board certified infertility specialists at Fertility Associates of Memphis, please contact our office at 901-747-2229. We would be happy to assist you.