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How Aging Affects Fertility and Pregnancy

Women become less fertile as they age. This is because women have a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries, which decreases as they get older. The peak reproductive years of a woman are between the late teens and late 20s. Fertility or the ability to get pregnant starts to decline by age 30. Reduction in fertility becomes more pronounced once you reach your mid-30s. By age 45, fertility has declined drastically that getting pregnant naturally is improbable for most women.

For healthy couples in their 20s and early 30s, around 1 in 4 women will get pregnant in any single menstrual cycle, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). By age 40, around 1 in 10 women will get pregnant per menstrual cycle. ACOG warns that women who get pregnant in their late 30s or 40s have a higher risk of complications, which can affect both the health of mother and the fetus.

Women over 35 have a higher risk of suffering miscarriage and stillbirth. Those over 40 have an increased risk of preeclampsia, which is the most common complication in pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a condition in which there is a sudden rise in blood pressure, protein in urine, and swelling of the legs, feet and hands. It can lead to eclampsia, which is life-threatening for both mother and child.

Pregnancy at a later age increases the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. ACOG explains that the remaining eggs in older women are more likely to have abnormal chromosomes. Chromosomes are proteins that carry genetic information in the form of DNA. As a woman ages, the risk of having a baby with missing, damaged, or extra chromosomes increases. The most common chromosome problem that occurs with later childbearing is Down syndrome.

Talk to your doctor for more information on how aging affects fertility and pregnancy.

References:
https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Having-a-Baby-After-Age-35-How-Aging-Affects-Fertility-and-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false. Accessed 27 January 2020
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252025.php. Accessed 27 January 2020
https://www.webmd.com/baby/preeclampsia-eclampsia#1. Accessed 27 January 2020
https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/basics/chromosome. Accessed 27 January 2020

 

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