If you’re planning to only have children when you’re older, knowing how your age may affect your fertility can help you make better informed decisions.
The quality of each woman’s eggs decreases with age. So after a peak age for ability to conceive (make a baby) in your early 20s, then comes a slow decline at first, followed by a quick descent from the age of 35, which then gets even faster over the age of 40.
Age matters for men too. From 40 years onwards your fertility begins to decline as the quality of your sperm decreases and with it the ability to conceive.
For a couple in their early 20s at peak fertility age, the chance of conceiving each month is one in five. After trying for one year this becomes an 85% chance. But the conception rate after one year also decreases with age. For a couple when the woman is over 35, one third have fertility problems, doubling to two thirds when the woman is over 40.
What to do
If you want to have a baby and you’re in a long term relationship, it may be good advice to have a conversation with your partner about the impact of age on fertility – and to do it sooner, rather than later.
And if you’ve been trying to conceive without success for a year and the woman is aged under 35, go see your doctor. This advice applies for women over 35 who have been trying for six months. It may mean you have a fertility problem that requires medical attention.
Fortunately in most cases, your fertility can be increased with treatments including in vitro fertilisation (IVF), medications or surgery.
For more information visit www.yourfertility.org.au