Is Age a Limiting Factor for conception in a woman?

Is Age a Limiting Factor for conception in a woman?

Pregnancy is one of most joyful and responsible phases in one’s life. In the present generation, the most common questions couple come up is regarding the ideal age to conceive, when is the need to consult gynecologist or fertility specialist, what might be the right treatment and the timeline? Here are the most common questions I am asked

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  •  What is the ideal age to conceive?
    a. A woman is highly fertile in her 20’s. There is a rapid decline in the fertility rate by mid-30’s and by 45yrs most women fail to conceive with their own eggs.
  • When should a woman consult a fertility specialist?
    a. A woman who unable to conceive despite having unprotected intercourse for 1 year should consult a fertility specialist. But for women more than 35yrs, it is recommended to have a pre conceptional counselling at the earliest.
  • Can young women in their mid-twenties have issues in conceiving?
    a. It is a myth that all young healthy women are fertile. Due to stress, women tend to exhaust their eggs faster. Conditions like PCOS, premature ovarian failure, thyroid abnormalities are known to affect fertility.
  • Does delaying treatment affect the results?
    a. The quality of eggs does deteriorate with age. Younger women respond better and conceive faster to treatment compared to women in their 30’s. Delaying only makes the process more cumbersome.
  • At what age there is a risk of having abnormal child?
    a. Women conceiving in late 30’s, i.e., > 37yrs have increased risk of having abnormal child due to decline egg quality & genetic alterations.
  • The treatment process sounds complicated
    a. There are lot of treatment options available. It can be simple lifestyle modification to advanced fertility care. A fertility specialist will be able to select the one most suitable according to the underlying condition.
  • Does the treatment at young/advanced age cause any complications later?
    a. Treatment per se does not cause any complications if done with expertise and precision. Hence choosing the right place & doctor plays very crucial role.

We am also asked questions related to men’s age and sperm quality. Though it is noted that sperm count and quality declines beyond late forties, it is sensitive to lifestyle related implications like smoking, drinking, substance abuse, environmental changes, and physical exertion. All these factors can cause reversible or irreversible sperm damage. Therefore, it becomes important to diagnose & treat at the earliest to prevent subfertility & its complications.

Our advice to couples is that age of the couple has an impact on the rate of conception & the success of treatment modalities. Be aware and seek treatment early for a positive outcome.

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