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Age and Fertility
In recent years, more and more women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to start a family. In the U.S., about 20 percent of women have their first child after age 35. Unfortunately, infertility increases with age and about one third of women over 35 have fertility problems.
Quality and Quantity of Eggs
- As you get older, your chance of getting pregnant declines. At age 30 your chance of getting pregnant naturally is approximately 20 percent each month; at age 40 it drops to approximately 5 percent each month. Plus, older women are more likely to have health problems or biological issues that interfere or affect fertility.
- As you age, the quality and quantity of your eggs significantly deteriorates. Your risk of infertility increases because you have fewer eggs in your ovaries and the quality of those eggs is lower than when you were younger. Egg quantity and quality begins to decline in your late 30s and declines more rapidly in your early 40s.
- Your menstrual cycle and ovulation may also grow increasingly irregular as you get older and can lead to fertility problems. Learn more about your biological clock here.
Chromosomal Problems and Miscarriage
- As you age, the eggs remaining in your ovaries are more likely to develop abnormalities in their chromosomes. These abnormalities lessen your chances of getting pregnant and increase your risk for miscarriage. In fact, at least one half of all miscarriages are due to abnormal chromosomes.
- The risk of miscarriage also increases with age. Several studies show that a woman under 30 years old has a 5 percent chance of having a miscarriage. Wait until you’re 35-39 years old to get pregnant and that risk increases to 16 percent. If you’re 44-46 years old, you have a 60 percent chance of having a miscarriage.
- All these fertility problems tie in together. Older women have an increased risk for miscarriage due to the increase in chromosomal abnormalities in their eggs. In addition, lower quality eggs also raise the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and miscarriage. Learn more about getting pregnant in your 40s in Fertility Authority's 40s Fertility section.
IVF Success and Age
Fertility clinics usually allow a woman to use her own eggs only until somewhere between the ages of 42 and 45. One way to try to overcome the effects of aging on fertility is through the use of fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or third party reproduction such as egg or embryo donation.