Age and pregnancy: How Old is too Old to Have a Baby?
When scrolling through your social media channels it’s pretty easy to be confused about the role age plays in pregnancy. It’s common to see one headline state that your ovaries retire after 29, and then see other headlines implying that some women are having babies in their 50s and 60s. How old is too old to have a baby? The answer to that is more complex than you may think.
Age and Fertility
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that the best reproductive years of a woman are during her 20s. Your chances of being able to get pregnant starts to lower slightly in your late 20’s, then it lowers considerably after your late 30’s. A healthy couple under 30 has approximately a 95% chance of getting pregnant within a year of unprotected sex. After the age of thirty, the chance of you getting drops by about 3% every year.
Once you hit 40, your chances of conceiving can drop to 5-10%. By the age of 45, the chance of pregnancy drops to less than 5%. These are statistics for the general population, and there’s always room for outliers. There are instances where a 24-year-old can be struggling to conceive, while older women approaching menopause can have an unexpected pregnancy.
Outside Fertility Factors
When looking at statistics on pregnancy, it’s easy to place yourself in the middle of all these numbers. There are outside factors that are strongly linked to the age that you can have a baby.
1. Being Healthy
Does being healthy help fight the effects of age on pregnancy? Yes, but probably not in the same way you think. Being maternally healthy can help counteract the effects of your aging. Unfortunately, the age of your ovaries can not be slowed down by any specific diet or exercise plan.
Every woman is born with a finite amount of eggs, as you age the quality and quantity of your eggs decrease — making it more difficult to get pregnant. Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle can help prevent things that can impede pregnancy: obesity, stress, high blood pressure, malnutrition. The key takeaway is that staying healthy maximizes your chance of a successful pregnancy, but won’t cancel out the effects of aging on the reproductive system.
2. Egg Donation and Invitro Fertilization (IVF)
Seeing all these age-related statistics can be baffling. One might possibly wonder, why are there so many women that are in their forties with babies on their front porch? A mere 10 percent chance of conceiving is low; Nevertheless, there is a relatively large amount of women that are in their forties.
Furthermore, there is a large number of women in their 40’s that use eggs from a young ovary (egg donation). The pregnancy statistics that were mentioned before were tied to the actual age of the egg, and not the women giving birth. Thus, using younger eggs from a donor increases your chance of pregnancy significantly. This is done using a process called In vitro fertilization (IVF). Many may find this process expensive and tiresome.
Before approaching IVF some people prefer to try outside technology that can help them conceive sooner. A Mira Fertility Tracker can use AI algorithms to create a highly personalized and accurate ovulation prediction specific to you based on measuring actual hormone concentrations. Compare to other over the counter Fertility/Ovulation tests, with Mira you don’t miss peaks even having irregular cycles.
3. Egg Freezing
Medically speaking, the optimal time to have a baby is in your early 20’s. Although, many may not be ready to conceive until much later in life, whether it be financially speaking or in terms of finding the right partner. It is recommended you plan to start a family before the age of 35, to try and have at least one healthy baby before the chances of age-related complications begin to increase.
There is an alternative option if you are approaching 35 without being ready to conceive. It becomes popular to freezing your eggs to be fertilized later on, which can help boost fertility in the future. However, it’s intense procedure that can have side effects. We recommend deciding if that’s the right decision for you with your doctor. Women over 35 who are trying to conceive should seek out medical advice if they haven’t gotten pregnant within 6 months of unprotected sex.
There are many women that become older moms past their 30’s with successful pregnancies, yet many still suffer from heartbreak, loss and emotional fatigue. Having a baby later into your 40s is possible, but usually comes at the cost of costly fertility treatments. There is no perfect time to have a baby, but the earlier you try the better.
Maternal Age and Risks
As women get older they may face a higher risk of miscarriage and complications during pregnancy such as premature births. Miscarriages are a taboo topic that affects many women across the globe. The rate of early pregnancy loss is about 20% for women under 30. The chance of miscarriage starts to increase after 35. By age 40 the rate of early pregnancy loss hovers around 40-50%.
If the baby does come to terms, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome is strongly linked to maternal age. This risk increases gradually as you get older, after the age of 35 the risks increase considerably faster. At 35 the risk of Down syndrome is 1 in 350, by age 40 it increases to 1 in 100, by age 45 it increases again to 1 in 45.
The risk of pregnancy in maternal age can also affect women as well. Women who are over the age of 30 can also see a slight increase in the risk of birth complications: