Your Age and Fertility

More women are choosing to wait until later in their life to have children. According to numbers from the National Statistics for England and Wales, the rates of women having children over the age of 30 has gone up significantly since the 1980s. The number of women under the age of 30 giving birth has fallen.

Couples have many reasons for delaying having children including finding a partner later, a desire to pursue an education or develop a career, or financial pressures and concerns. There is nothing wrong with waiting until after the age of 30 to begin having babies, but women should be aware that their chance of conceiving drops the older they get.

The Likelihood of Getting Pregnant

According to The Fertility Sourcebook by M. Sara Rosenthal and Management of the Infertile Woman by Helen A. Carcio, women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 24. Eighty six percent are likely to get pregnant within a year and only three percent have infertility problems. By the age of 25 to 29 the likelihood of getting pregnant drops close to ten percent to 78 percent. Infertility problems rise by two percent. Women between the ages of 30 to 34 have an eight percent likelihood of infertility and a 63 percent likelihood of getting pregnant. By ages 35 to 39 the likelihood of getting pregnant drops to 52 percent and the likelihood of infertility rises to 15 percent. Between the ages of 40 to 44 the likelihood of pregnancy and infertility are almost equal at 36 percent and 32 percent respectively.

The UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority sums up fertility and the likelihood of having a baby like this: "At 35 you're half as fertile as when you were at 25; at 40 you're half as fertile as when you were 35."

Explaining the Sudden Decrease in Fertility

There are a number of factors that could make it more difficult for a woman to conceive as she gets older. Possibly the largest contributing factor is the declining number of eggs every girl is born with. As a woman gets older, the eggs run out. Sometimes they run out sooner than average which can cause early menopause.

The uterus lining tends to become thinner as a woman ages. This makes it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. Thinner uterus lining also means that periods can become shorter and irregular. The mucus secretions in an older woman tend to be thicker and less hospitable for sperm making it more difficult the sperm to reach and fertilize any egg that was released.

Any chronic conditions or reproductive diseases like endometriosis can worsen with age making it even more difficult to conceive. STDs contracted when a woman was younger can also worsen making it more difficult to conceive.