Why Age Matters

Unfortunately, the saying “beware your biological clock” is true. Infertility, by definition, is linked to a woman’s age. Female fertility begins to decline after age 30, at which point the chances of conception decrease, while the chances of infertility increase.

Because age is beyond our control, it can feel hopeless to hear that fertility declines over time. In reality there is reason to feel hope — you can take control! Acknowledging that your biological clock affects your fertility is an opportunity to learn how to manage obstacles to your fertility, and how to optimize your chances of getting pregnant.

AGE & INFERTILITY

why

The key point to keep in mind when it comes to your age and your fertility is that your ovarian reserve, or egg supply, declines as you age. A declining ovarian reserve means that it becomes harder to conceive over time. Unfortunately, just as egg quantity declines over time, so does egg quality.

Your chances of giving birth to a healthy baby on your own are highest from age 25-35, based on declining egg quality and quantity with age.

QUICK FACTS: EGG QUALITY & QUANTITY

Egg Quantity

  • Women are born with 2 million eggs
  • By puberty, that number declines to 400,000
  • At age 30, women have 100,000 eggs
  • By age 45-55, that number is zero
  • Your chances of giving birth to a healthy baby are highest from age 25-35

Egg Quality

  • Because the quality of the remaining eggs in the ovarian reserve is lower with age, women over 40 experience a higher rate of chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Genetic testing (PGS and PGD) is an effective way of analyzing your embryos in order to identify and eliminate these abnormalities.
  • Your chance of miscarriage rises with age: in your 20’s, your chance of miscarriage is 20%, but by age 45 it rises as high as 90%.
  • The percentage of “good eggs”, or eggs with the potential to become babies, in your ovarian reserve drops from 12% at age 30 to 4% at age 40

 

WHEN TO SEE A FERTILITY DOCTOR

  • Women under age 35 should meet with a fertility expert after one year of actively trying to conceive
  • Women ages 35-39 should meet with a fertility expert after 6 months trying to conceive
  • Women 40+ should meet with a fertility expert as soon as possible
  • By age 40, women have significantly smaller chances of becoming pregnant, because egg quality and quantity begin to diminish much more rapidly after age 37. Lower quality eggs are more likely to be chromosomally abnormal, with a higher chance of miscarriage.
  • Donor egg IVF offers women 40+ the highest chance of a successful pregnancy using higher quality eggs from healthy donors. Your fertility expert will be able to assess your individual chance of success using IVF with donor eggs.

 

TESTING EGG QUALITY & QUANTITY

Egg quantity and quantity are both measurable properties. At The Albany Fertility Center, we measure egg quantity and quality to help you gain a greater sense of control and understanding of your fertility health. Through this understanding, you will be able to work with your fertility specialist to make fertility decisions and treatment choices that accurately address any issues that may be present.

Your doctor will rely on one or more tests to assess the quantity and quality of your eggs:

  • FSH Testing: On Day 3 of your cycle, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) can be measured via a simple blood sample. FSH serves the purpose of stimulating an egg for ovulation, so women with a larger egg supply require less FSH. This means that higher FSH levels indicate a lower ovarian reserve.
  • AMH Testing: To make it easier on your schedule, we often check AMH on Day 3 of your cycle, along with other testing. Because AMH is a product of cells that support the dormant eggs in the ovaries, higher levels of AMH indicate a greater ovarian reserve— more eggs.
  • Follicular Ultrasound: As a complement to hormone testing, ultrasounds also give us a read on your ovarian reserve. Through ultrasound, your doctor is able to see how many follicles are in your ovaries, which allows your doctor to predict ovarian reserve.
  • Genetic Testing: Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) are elective procedures performed in vitro, before the embryo is implanted in the uterus. Both forms of genetic testing reveal egg quality, and help you to eliminate chromosomal abnormalities in your embryos for the highest chance of a healthy pregnancy.

 

YOUR NEXT STEP

Whether you have a hunch that something might be wrong, or straightforward and clear fertility concerns, it’s worth a consultation with a fertility specialist. Otherwise, your age relative to time trying to conceive is an indicator of when it’s time to see a fertility doctor.

Bottom line: the sooner you meet with a fertility specialist, the sooner your doctor can identify what’s causing your difficulty in becoming pregnant, and the higher your chance of achieving your dream of parenthood.

Click here to learn more about when to visit a fertility doctor.