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How age affects male and female fertility and childbirth?

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Some couples put off having children early in life due to personal, professional or financial obligations. On the other hand, those who want to have a baby early and are unable to conceive try relentlessly throughout their fertile period without consulting a fertility expert about how they can improve their chances of conception.

Women generally conceive without much difficulty before the age of 35 but the most fertile period for a woman is during her early 20s. Although, when you want to start a family is a personal decision, you do need to consider age as it is an inevitable factor that affects both male and female fertility.

Effects of ageing on the female reproductive system

A woman is born with up to two million eggs. As the woman reaches adolescence, the number of eggs produced by her body steeply drops to around 400,000. With every menstrual cycle, one or two mature eggs are released by the ovary, which can fertilize and result in a pregnancy.

When a woman approaches the age of 30, her fertility begins to decline; her age affects the quantity and the quality of her eggs. It is quite likely for women in their 30s to have shorter or irregular periods. The lining in the womb also tends to thin, making it even more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant itself and develop into a sustainable pregnancy.

Effects of ageing on the male reproductive system

Many people believe that age does not affect male fertility as in the case of women. This is quite untrue because as a man ages, the quality of his sperm also begins to decline. It is, however, true that men remain fertile for a longer period compared to women.

Men who are over 45 are more likely to have sperm disorders. This includes having a low sperm count or unhealthy sperms. This can greatly affect the health of the baby that might be born. Fertility clinics that that make use of donor semen for their treatments, use semen from donors who are healthy and below 35 years of age.

Why fertility treatments should not be delayed

While fertility treatments help those who have identified the causes of infertility and those who have delayed childbearing, age is a factor that must be considered while planning a baby. Older women are also at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. The risk of miscarriage and stillbirth also increase as the woman ages.

Fertility treatments like Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) can assist women who have not been able to conceive, or have a full term pregnancy. Women who are below 40 years and choose to go for IVF treatments have better success rates than those above 40. If you know you have problems conceiving or are more than 35 years of age, it is recommended that you see a fertility expert to advise you on the best possible fertility treatment.

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