The Role Of Age In Fertility
The ability to conceive and generate offspring is known as fertility. And it is a multifaceted biological phenomenon influenced by various factors, including age. Age is a crucial determinant of fertility for both males and females, and comprehending its impact on fertility is vital for those intending to commence a family.
Age is a significant determinant of fertility in women. Women have a limited supply of eggs from birth, and as they age, the number and quality of their eggs decrease. This decrease in egg quantity and quality can reduce the likelihood of conception and increase the risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities in the offspring.
In general, women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 30. After the age of 30, fertility starts to decline, and by age 35, the decline becomes more significant. The chance of conceiving naturally each month decreases by about 3-5% per year after the age of 30, and by the age of 40, the chance of conceiving naturally each month is less than 5%.
Age also plays a significant role in the success rates of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). IVF involves the fertilisation of eggs outside of the body and the transfer of the resulting embryos into the uterus. The success rates of IVF decline as women age, primarily due to the decline in egg quality and quantity. Women under the age of 35 have the highest success rates of IVF, with a live birth rate of around 40%. By the age of 42, the live birth rate decreases to around 4%.
In addition to the decline in fertility, age can also increase the risk of pregnancy complications. Older women have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. They are also more likely to require a caesarean delivery, and their babies have an increased risk of low birth weight and chromosomal abnormalities.
In men, age can also affect fertility, although the decline in fertility is less dramatic than in women. Men produce sperm throughout their lives, but as they age, the quality and quantity of their sperm can decline. The decline in sperm quality and quantity can lead to a decrease in the chances of conception and an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities in offspring.
In general, men are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 35. After the age of 35, the quality and quantity of their sperm begin to decline, although the decline is gradual. Men over the age of 40 may experience a decrease in testosterone levels, which can also affect fertility.
Age can also affect the success rates of ART for men. In general, the success rates of ART for men decline with age, although the decline is less dramatic than in women. Men over the age of 40 may have a decreased chance of success with intrauterine insemination (IUI), a procedure that involves placing sperm directly into the uterus, and IVF.
Overall, age plays a significant role in fertility for both men and women. Understanding how age affects fertility is essential for individuals who are planning to start a family. Women should be aware that fertility declines with age and that the chances of conceiving naturally and the success rates of ART decrease as they get older. Men should also be aware that age can affect their fertility and the success rates of ART. Couples who are struggling to conceive should seek the advice of a fertility specialist, who can provide guidance on the best course of action.