Fertility can be impacted by a series of factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, age, etc. In fact, fertility is more of a sliding scale than an all-or-nothing issue. Age, however, is one of the most impactful factors in a female reproductive cycle. For some couples who have difficulty conceiving, assisted reproductive technology may be the solution.
What Is Ovarian Reserve?
A woman’s ovarian reserve is the number of viable eggs in her ovaries. During puberty, it averages approximately 300,000 to 400,000. Unlike men, women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Women engage and mature a few eggs each month. Generally, only one egg becomes “dominant” (fully mature) and is released in the fallopian tubes for fertilization. If the egg is not fertilized, we could say one egg is lost per month after the onset of menses. Low ovarian reserve indicates that a woman may have difficulty becoming pregnant, whether naturally or through in vitro fertilization (IVF), and this reserve diminishes with age, as eggs undergo the same aging process as the rest of the cells in the body.
At What Age Does Female Fertility Decline?
Fertility rates vary. While some women can conceive naturally well into their 30s, this is not a good indicator for the average woman. Ovarian reserve begins to decline dramatically after 30 years of age, with more chances of fertility loss occurring after the age of 35. Fertility is decreased by half among women in their late 30s. Additionally, younger women can be affected by early menopause, a condition that can cause ovarian reserves to diminish prematurely.
How Do I Know if I Am Infertile?
A reproductive specialist can perform tests to determine the chances of fertility and the cause of infertility, if that is the case. If you have been trying to become pregnant for over a year with no success, then it might be time to consult a specialist. If a woman is over 35 years of age and cannot become pregnant after 6 months of trying, then she may want to seek out reproductive assistance earlier, as time is a factor.
Does Age Impact Male Fertility?
Yes. Similar to women, age can have an impact on male fertility. While there might be a slight change in male fertility at 35 years of age, noticeable fertility decline in men doesn’t occur until about the age of 50. There are cases of men fathering children naturally well into their 50s and 60s, though these cases are not common.
What if I Don’t Plan on Having Kids in My 20s?
Today, more women than ever are choosing to delay having children to pursue educational, career, or life goals. If children aren’t in your life plan yet but you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity in the future, then you might want to consider freezing your eggs. Egg freezing is the ideal way to preserve your healthy eggs so that they can be used with IVF treatments when you are ready to become pregnant.
If you have more fertility questions, schedule a consultation with our reproductive specialist by calling 310.929.6707.