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How long can I wait?: The relationship between fertility and age for women

This post has been written in response to an MFC reader’s suggestion to include a graph on our site depicting the relationship between a woman’s age and her fertility. 

Although many women would like to be able to turn back the hands of time on their “biological clocks”, the reality is that women’s fertility declines with age – starting as early as the late 20s. Women are born with all the eggs (oocytes) they will ever have – approximately 1 to 2 million. By puberty approximately 300,000 remain. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a woman’s fertility begins to significantly decline around 32 years of age, with more rapid declines occurring at approximately 37 years of age. Among women, age-related fertility decline is primarily associated with a decrease in the number and quality of her eggs.

Many women are all too aware of their declining fertility yet do not know what their chances are of conceiving a child at specific ages. If you are wondering about the likelihood of being able to get pregnant at your age, refer to the graph above. For example, the average 22 year old woman has a 25% chance of naturally conceiving in any given month. By 31 years of age, the likelihood of conceiving drops to 20%, and by 45 years of age a woman’s chances of getting pregnant drops to less than 5% per month. Conversely, the rates of miscarriage and risks of fetal abnormalities increase significantly with age.

If you are concerned about fertility decline and how this may affect your ability to have children, speak with your doctor or fertility specialist.

Read more about age-related fertility decline among women here and here.

For more information about fertility history and lifespan, click here.

To read more about fertility testing and preservation, click here 

Photo Source: Reproductive Biology Associates 

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