HomeInfertilityHow does Age Affect Women's Fertility as compared to Men?

How does Age Affect Women’s Fertility as compared to Men?

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Women, for the most part, have a fixed fertility window. This involves a peak reproductive age, wherein conception is a lot easier, provided that the person is healthy and has optimal reproductive health. Age plays a crucial factor in a woman’s fertility due to the limited ovarian reserve.

Women are born with a limited number of eggs at birth. Every month, after starting their menstrual cycle, an egg from the ovary matures and is released into the reproductive tract to be fertilized. As the age progresses, the ovarian reserve depletes, leading to complications with fertility and eventual pregnancy.

Is it the same in men? Technically, no. Men, unlike women, don’t have a limited number of egg reserves. So, technically a man’s fertility lasts longer than women. However, age plays a factor in men’s fertility, too, especially when it comes to sperm and semen quality.

This article will explore more on the fertility of women and how age plays a crucial factor in the process.

More about the Ageing Ovary

When discussing women’s fertility, the primary focus organ is the ovary. The ovaries contain eggs, also known as ovarian reserve.

Like every organ in the body, even the ovaries are subjected to the impacts of aging. The availability of a finite number of eggs in a female is fostered during fetal or neonatal life. There is no further production of germ cells in the female reproductive tract.

Folliculogenesis (or follicular formation) goes on from before the birth of the fetus until menopause hits. As a female hits puberty, the rise in gonadotropins completes the final stages of follicular formation, resulting in ovulation and the onset of the menstrual cycle in the person.

Unless pregnancy occurs, the cyclical menstrual cycle occurs each month, shedding the uterine lining and preparing for the next cycle of ovulation and menses.

However, as the ovary continually ages, the ovarian reserve or the number of healthy eggs in the ovary decreases with time. There is ongoing research to develop a series of biophysical or hormonal tests for women’s fertility to ascertain exactly the remnant oocytes in the ovary to get a rough estimate of the remaining reproductive years for the female patient.

Pregnancy and Age of the Woman

As aging affects the chances of fertility in women due to reducing ovarian reserve, the chances of getting pregnant are equally hampered.

The capacity to bear a child, medically termed fecundity, declines with age in a woman. Since the reduction in the number of oocytes is inevitable and irreversible, it isn’t a surprise that women face a lot of complications conceiving a child after crossing the fertility window, which is generally considered to be 35 years and less.

Besides the ovary, other factors that often contribute to the declining rate of fertility in women is due to the aging reproductive tract, uterus, etc.

Studies and reports suggest that although there is a peaked improvement in the available assisted reproductive techniques in the present world, even with the modern fertility treatment, there is a “marked age-related decline in live birth rates among women in their late 30s having IVF treatment.”

How does Age Affect Women’s Fertility Compared to Men?

Fertility and age are interwoven, especially in women. As we mentioned earlier, women are born with a limited number of eggs, so there is a limited fertility window depending on the remnant eggs and the overall vitality and reproductive health.

In the case of men, they can produce sperm throughout their life. However, does that mean that a man can father a child even in their 70s and 80s? The answer is yes. But, it comes with several complications, especially for the newborn baby.

Let us walk you through the fertility in men and women through the ages:

During the 20s

When it comes to a woman’s most fertile age, the 20s are considered optimal. Even the difference in fertility during the early and late 20s is negligible, making it an ideal period to try for a biological child.

Women trying for a baby during their 20s will have healthier eggs and more ovarian reserve. There are reduced risks of carrying genetic abnormalities that could lead to complications like Down Syndrome and other congenital disabilities.

Also, since the 20s are the most fertile period for a healthy woman, the risks of miscarriage during that phase are just 10%. The chances of having a pre-term birth are also less. Mothers are less likely to develop gestational complications when they conceive in their 20s.

Remember that all of these advantages of a healthy pregnancy and delivery are directly associated with the overall health of the female patient. If a woman is struggling with metabolic or hormonal issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, etc., it may hinder their chances of a successful pregnancy.

During the 30s

Reports suggest that the chances of conceiving a baby in the 30s are between 15-20% every month with the onset of ovulation. Even studies indicate that women trying for a baby in their 30s have a 30% chance of being successful on the first try.

However, as we have time and time mentioned, fertility is a very subjective journey. Some women might have no issues conceiving in their 30s due to optimal health, while others might face fertility issues in their early 20s due to an underlying complication.

Since a woman’s fertility window is generally considered optimal under 35 years, most doctors would suggest freezing the eggs if the patient plans to have a biological child.

The chances of a natural conception after 35 gradually decline in women, and there are risks of carrying multiples due to excess levels of follicle-stimulating hormone in the body.

During the 40s

With each ovulation cycle, the chances of pregnancy or conception reduce by 5%. So, by the time a woman is 40 years and older, the chances of a successful conception naturally stand at 1%.

Most women trying for a baby by the time they are 40 generally experience issues with fertility due to the depleting ovarian reserve and the poor health of the remnant eggs in the ovary.

In such cases, assistive reproductive techniques like IVF are considered a more effective route to conceive biological children.

Not just in women, by the time a man reaches 40 and more in their age, the vitality of the sperm gradually decreases too. However, that doesn’t automatically confer infertility. In fact, it could be senescence-related fertility complications that can be addressed with proper treatment with a specialist.

Irrespective of your age, it is crucial to prioritize reproductive and sexual health for a successful pregnancy down the road. If you are planning to have biological children but don’t want to compromise on the egg reserves, multiple medical advancements are available. Eggs can be frozen for future use. All you have to do is consult a specialist and familiarize yourself with the process.

FAQs

1. Is woman’s fertility less affected than men’s?

It is quite the contrary. Women are time-bound when it comes to fertility and have a definite fertility window, which is generally 35 years old.

2. Is 37 too old to have a baby?

“Too old” is a very heavy term. If a woman is healthy and has regular menses and no underlying complications, conceiving a baby at 37 might not be complicated. Some women conceive after 35 and still deliver healthy babies.

3. Can I get pregnant after 43?

The answer to this lies in one’s health. It is possible to conceive naturally at 43, but the odds are very slim. It depends on the person’s overall health, ovarian reserve, egg vitality, and even the partner’s sperm and semen quality.

Conclusion

The concept of “women’s fertility by age” isn’t a social construct. It is medically proven that age plays a very crucial factor in the natural conception of a child. So, if you are concerned about women’s fertility compared to men and how age plays a role in it, we have answered it all in this article. We hope it gives you a clear insight into all your queries. 

 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.

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