The Link Between Age and Fertility: What You Need to Know

  • June 11, 2024
  • blog

The path to parenthood is an emotional experience for individuals and couples. While aspiring parents remain obsessed with excitement and hope, few realize the relationship between fertility and age. Both men and women experience a decline in fertility levels with age. However, in women, the ability to conceive undergoes a more rapid decline compared to men. The odds of miscarriage do rise with age, and becoming pregnant can be challenging.

Advancements in modern healthcare and assisted reproductive technologies have opened new doors to achieving parenthood. However, the natural link between fertility and age is what couples should prioritize.

In this guide, we have comprehensively explained how age affects fertility in both men and women. We have also explored the scope of treatments such as IVF that can help couples realize their parenthood dreams.

Women’s Age And Fertility

women age and fertility

A woman is born with all the eggs she’ll produce throughout her lifespan. However, the rate of fertility starts declining in women as they age, accompanied by a fall in quality and quantity. Although maintaining a healthy body increases the odds of getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby, age is the most crucial factor determining a woman’s fertility.

For instance, the odds of getting pregnant every month are the highest in a woman in her early to mid-twenties, at 25-30. Fertility declines once she reaches her 30s, and after the age of 35, the rate of decline intensifies. The chance of conceiving in any monthly cycle declines to just 5% by the age of 40.

Quality and Quantity of Egg

Female fertility largely depends on the quality and number of eggs that the ovaries produce. As women age 35, the ovarian reserve starts declining, accompanied by a decrease in the quality of these eggs. The chances of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs rise, increasing the risks of miscarriage and stillbirths. As women age 40, the decline in fertility becomes more profound.

Most women experience menopause at around 51 years of age. After this stage, the ability to conceive naturally declines. Since the chances to get pregnant cease after the 50s, it’s crucial to understand the link between fertility and age. Women eyeing parenthood should consider the ideal reproductive window and carry out their family planning.

Age And Female Fertility While Considering IVF

One of the common misconceptions is that one can overcome the effect of age on fertility with IVF treatment. The chance of conceiving with a successful IVF treatment also depends on the age of the woman. The chance of a live birth in Australia from a complete IVF cycle is presented below.

  • Age 30 to 34: 43%
  • Age 35 to 39: 31%
  • Age 40 to 44: 11%

Older women still have a chance of having a baby if a younger woman donates her eggs.

Complications related to age and female fertility

While discussing the relationship between fertility and age in women, it’s worth noting that the risk of complications during pregnancy also increases with age. Once a woman reaches 35, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities and miscarriage undergoes a spike. Other complications associated with age and female fertility include:

  • Placenta praevia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Stillbirth
  • Cesarean section

 PCOS and endometriosis are some of the common conditions affecting female fertility.

Men’s Age and Fertility

In this section, we will discuss men’s age and fertility, which also declines with age. Men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, although its quality declines with age.

Male fertility drops gradually after the age of 40 as the sperm count decreases.  Increasing age in men reduces the chances of getting a woman pregnant, evident from the rising number of menstrual cycles it takes for the woman to conceive. Declining sperm count significantly increases risks like fetal death and miscarriage. 

Even in the case of live births, the children are likely to have mental health issues.  Children born to fathers aged over 40 stand 5 times the risk of being autistic compared to those born to fathers aged 30 or less. These children are also likely to develop other mental disorders like schizophrenia later in life. This is why couples should understand the equation between fertility and age and plan their kids accordingly.

Factors Affecting Fertility In Men With Age

Men’s age and fertility largely depend on the following factors.

Sperm Quality and Quantity

With age, the volume of semen produced by men tends to decrease. This affects the consistency of sperm, as their count tends to decline. The changes in sperm reaching and fertilizing an egg diminish with age.

Decline in Fertility Levels

According to research, male fertility declines from the age of 40, resulting in low levels of fertility. Although men can father kids at older ages, the chances of conception decline, along with a declining rate of overall fertility. 

Impact on Assisted Reproductive Technologies

The age of men also determines the success of vitro fertilization IVF treatment. Issues related to sperm quality and count can be overcome through advanced treatment. However, the age of fathers often determines the outcome of fertility treatments.

Factors Affecting Fertility In Aging Men And Women

To ensure successful parenthood, it’s imperative to understand the link between age and fertility. We have listed common factors related to infertility in both aging men and women.

What causes infertility in aging men?

Poor sperm count and quality are the primary issues with declining fertility rates in older men. Other factors leading to infertility in older men include:

  • Those experiencing issues with ejaculation find it challenging to discharge semen during intercourse.
  • Low testosterone levels, the primary reproductive hormone in men, can lead to infertility.
  • Impediments in the reproductive tract, like blockages, make it challenging to discharge semen.
  • Genetic illnesses and damaged reproductive organs can lead to infertility in men. 

What causes infertility in aging women?

Women might find it challenging to achieve pregnancy due to the following factors.

  • Uterine fibroids or polyps
  • Poor quality of egg
  • Issues in the fallopian tubes, uterus, or the vagina
  • Surgeries like tied tubes
  • Endometriosis
  • Chromosomal disorders
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Autoimmune situations
  • Irregular or missed periods
  • Diseases in the kidney
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Problems with glands in the brain

Common Treatment Options for Infertility in Men and Women

Reputed healthcare centers offer advanced treatment processes to pave the way to parenthood for older couples. Here are some of the recommended treatment processes to address these issues.

Fertility Assessment

Couples undergo fertility assessments to obtain necessary information about their fertility status and associated risks. Physicians recommend different types of tests, such as ovarian reserve, hormone levels, and ovulation detection, to assess fertility levels.

Fertility treatment

Those struggling with fertility issues due to age can benefit from fertility treatment processes. Some of the common treatments include IVF cycles, artificial insemination, ICSI, and cryopreservation. These treatments increase the chances of an older woman conceiving a child.

Ovarian Reserve Testing

Ovarian reserve testing evaluates the quality and quantity of eggs in females, considering specific risk factors and age. Doctors perform this test by testing the follicle-stimulating hormone FSH in blood on the third day of the menstrual cycle. Thus, they determine the percentage of eggs left at a specific age.

On average, women aged 30 have 12% of their ovarian reserve left, while it declines to 3% by the age of 40. Ovarian reserve tests also help determine the rate at which the follicle depletes. Accordingly, doctors can determine the age by which someone can experience infertility.

Testing Sperm Quality 

Sperm quality testing determines most issues related to men’s age and fertility. These tests provide a detailed evaluation of changes in sperm motility, morphology, and count. Early detection can help men identify possible health issues and take proactive measures to improve their fertility.

Egg Freezing

 Egg freezing is a technique that enables women to postpone their pregnancy. This does away with the risk of age-related decline in the quality of eggs. Thus, they stand a higher chance of conceiving at an older age, even in the absence of a male partner.

Seek Medical Support to Embrace Parenthood with Confidence

Parenthood and family planning are indispensable aspects of your life goals. With advanced treatments for male and female infertility, hundreds of happy couples are embracing parenthood, even at older ages. Consult professionals to understand your risks of fertility and age fertility and age.

At Santokh Hospital, our advanced treatment processes and comprehensive care can pave your way to parenthood. Infertility issues can be emotionally draining and stressful, so schedule a consultation with us. Overcome the challenges of age and fertility with innovative therapies and personalized strategies.