Age is the most significant factor that affects a woman’s fertility. A woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have a successful pregnancy in your later years.
The age for first-time pregnancies is rising around the world. In the US, the average age of first pregnancy is 25. In Japan, it’s 29, and in Germany, it’s 30.1
Most women reach their peak fertility rates between the ages of 23 and 31. After that point, fertility starts to decline in most women. At the age of 30, healthy, fertile women have a 20 percent chance of conceiving during any given cycle. That doesn’t mean that 30-year-old women only have a 20 percent chance of becoming pregnant in general; it simply means that 20 in 100 women will become pregnant within the first cycle of trying; 80 others will have to try again for the next cycle.
By the age of 31, fertility begins to drop by about three percent per year, until 35, when the decline picks up speed. By age 40, a woman’s odds of conceiving are five percent per cycle, on average.2 This relationship between age and odds of conceiving are further demonstrated in the chart below.34 The percentages represent the probability of a woman becoming pregnant during her next cycle, based on her age and the number of months she’s been TTC.
|NUMBER OF MONTHS TTC|
While the average woman can have a baby until the age of 41, each woman is different from the next. For some women, that age is higher—it could be as high as 45. About one in four women over the age of 35 experience difficulties becoming pregnant.5 Many people believe that women reach their infertility when they go into menopause. In fact, most women lose their ability to have a successful pregnancy prior to the onset of menopause. The average age of menopause is 51, whereas many women can no longer have a successful pregnancy by the mid-forties.6 With that being said, age isn’t the only factor that impacts your fertility. Your odds may be increased through healthier habits such as moderate exercise, a well-balanced diet, controlled alcohol consumption, and avoidance of smoking and other toxins. And, if you are at an age where your fertility has already been affected, you can still discuss your options with a fertility expert.
- Walton, Alice G. (2011 June 20). “Getting Pregnant: Top 10 Fertility Myths and Facts.” ForbesWoman. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2011/06/20/getting-pregnant-top-10-fertility-myths-and-facts/ ↩
- Fertility Coalition. (2015). “A woman’s age affects her fertility.” Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://yourfertility.org.au/for-women/age ↩
- Pearson, C. (2012 October 9). The Huffington Post. “New Model Predicts Women’s Odds of Getting Pregnant.” Retrieved November 24, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/predict-odds-of-getting-pregnant_n_1948517.html ↩
- Sozou, P. and Hartshorne, M. (2012 October 4). PLoS ONE. “Time to Pregnancy: A Computational Method for Using the Duration of Non-Conception for Predicting Conception. Retrieved November 24, 2015, from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0046544 ↩
- Aschwanden, C. (2009 January 31). “Fertility 101.” Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/fertility-101?page=3 ↩
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). “Age and Fertility.” Retrieved November 13, 2015, from https://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_BooklBoo/agefertility.pdf ↩