Many women have put off marriage and starting families. Studies have shown women over 35 are less fertile as they tend to ovulate less. Men tend to have a slight decrease in fertility in their late 30s.
As a woman ages her ability to conceive drops dramatically after age 35, and more so after the age of 40. Infertility is defined as a couple who have been trying to conceive without success for over a one year period. Women over 35 who have tried for six months to get pregnant are recommended to see their gynecologist or fertility expert. However women at any age should see their physician to get a complete evaluation of their medical situation prior to trying to get pregnant.
Possible Problems with Fertility or Infertility
In addition to age, some common reasons for infertility in women are:
Endometriosis – when tissues grow outside of the uterus instead of inside. For example Blocked Fallopian Tubes can occur with endometriosis.
Uterine Polyps – “overgrowth of cells in the lining of the uterus… leads to the formation of uterine polyps.” Uterine polyps are common in women ages 40 through their 50s.
Uterine Fibroids – “noncancerous growths of the uterus, also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas.” Many women at some time in their lives have uterine fibroids; however most don’t know it because they have no symptoms. Usually uterine fibroids are said to cause no problems nor require treatment, however if symptoms do occur or one is trying to conceive, your doctor may recommend treatment.
Pre-existing Health Conditions
As women age, they are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney and heart problems. If these conditions are left uncontrolled they can lead to birth defects, miscarriage, and/or slow fetal growth. In addition, you’ll want to have your physician and/or pharmacist review the effects of prescribed and over the counter mediations on pregnancy.
Risks in Pregnancy Increase
One of the major concerns for women over 40 is the increase in birth defects. Down syndrome is a common chromosomal birth defect in older women; as the case with former vice presidential candidate Sara Palin found, prior to delivering her son Trig in 2008, she was 44.
Studies have shown that at age 35, 1 in 1,000 births will result in some type of physical or mental birth defect. At age 40 the number increases to 1 in 100, at age 45, 1 in 30, and at age 49, a woman has a 1 in 10 chance of delivering a child with a birth defect.
Testing such as an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) can screen for birth defects, however there is small risk of miscarriage. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are recommending that women have a screening test to see if they are at risk of miscarriage, before they have the amniocentesis or CVS.
Increase in Miscarriage
Studies have shown that most women who miscarry occur in the first trimester of their pregnancy. The risks increase with age and at 35 to 39 the risk is 20 percent. At ages 40 to 44 miscarriage increases to 35 percent. And by age 45, the risk of miscarriage increases to 50 percent.
See your health care provider for more information and a complete evaluation. Check back or subscribe to receive notice of future publishing of articles on fertility, complications, treatment/care, and options.
Disclaimer: The preceding information is based on personal research and / or experiences. It in no way is intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. You are recommended to seek professional medical advice from a licensed physician to diagnose, treat, and educate you on your specific needs.
Berkeley Parents Network Online support with others over 40 trying to conceive
March of Dimes – Pregnancy after 35 Statistics Women 35-39, Women over 40