A female’s prime childbearing years are between the ages of 18 to the late 20s. Fertility begins to decline naturally around age 30. After 40, the chance of becoming pregnant unassisted falls to 5%. Women are born with a fixed ovarian reserve. The number of eggs a woman has declines with age. Additionally, the older a woman becomes, the less viable the eggs are. Miscarriage and birth defects are common among older mothers. Older women are more likely to develop pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia. Multiple births are more common with older women due to the ovaries releasing multiple eggs. A woman will not remain fertile until menopause.
Male fertility will also decline with age, but much later in life. Sperm count and quality generally don’t decline until age 60. While most women are unable to bear children after age 50, there is no maximum age for men. A healthy man may experience no change in libido or reproductive functioning. A man can father a child well into the 70s.
Pregnancy after 40
If natural conception doesn’t work, there are many types of assisted reproductive technologies available. Doctors will require at least 6 months of active trying without success before beginning fertility treatments. The same applies to older mothers. Treatment will most often start with fertility drugs to stimulate egg production.
Depending on reproductive health, the next step will be either artificial insemination (AI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sperm or egg donors may be needed. If the eggs are harvested when the woman is most fertile, the eggs or embryos can be frozen for future use. Sperm, eggs, and embryos can be frozen indefinitely. Surrogacy is another option if the couple is of the same sex or if the female partner is unable to become pregnant or carry children to term.
You can have children later in life
As women age, the quantity and quality of eggs begin to decline. Infertility in men happens at a much later age than women. Though women may need fertility treatments, having children later in life is possible. Speak with a fertility specialist to learn more.