Pregnancy through the ages
There’s no ‘right time’ to start a family – but there are pros and cons at any age if you're trying for a baby. So what should you be considering if you're looking to get pregnant?
There's a plethora of weird and wonderful tips on getting pregnant. However, on many occasions these 'pearls of wisdom' fail to fulfil their promises. And while there’s no ‘right time’ to start a family there are plenty of pros and cons at different ages. Dr. Ferrando of the IVI Fertility Clinic explains the various strengths and challenges of falling pregnant to consider in your 20s, 30s and 40s:
In Your 20s
Your 20s are your most fertile years because your periods are regular and, almost always, ovulatory. Not only is there a high chance of falling pregnant, but pregnancy is often physically easier for women in their 20s because there's a lower risk of health complications like high blood pressure and diabetes. Generally speaking, at this age you are also at your optimal fitness level, making the delivery of a baby and post-delivery weight loss a lot more manageable.
From a medical perspective, your 20s are definitely the best decade for conceiving and carrying a baby.
However, this doesn’t mean to say your 20s are the best time for everyone to fall pregnant. For example, are you emotionally ready for a baby? Are you prepared to pause your career for a pregnancy? Are you financially stable enough to start a family? A lot of people in their 20s are still carving their path in life, so it’s important to consider whether that's the right time for you to embark on parenthood.
In Your 30s
As you move into your 30s, your ovaries age along with the rest of your body, and the quality of your eggs gradually starts to deteriorate. Although there's no ‘magic number’ at which your fertility will start to decline, many experts predict this process begins once you hit 30.
As this is a gradual process, your chances of falling pregnant in your early 30s are only slightly lower than in your late 20s, but once you reach 35 your chance will start to decrease fairly rapidly.
For those who need fertility treatment, the chances of falling pregnant are also higher in your early 30s. Treatments like artificial insemination and IVF are more successful in women aged 30-35, compared to those over the age of 35.
Body clock aside, there are several lifestyle advantages to becoming a mum in your 30s compared to your 20s. The most obvious is you're more likely to be secure in your career. On top of that, new mums in their 30s tend to have a lot of stamina and resilience due to their life experience, both qualities that come in handy for parenting young children.
Egg-freezing is fast becoming a popular option, and in some places they suggest the best age to freeze your eggs is in your 30s as, the younger the eggs are, the higher the pregnancy success rates.
In Your 40s
More and more women are making the decision to try for a baby in their 40s. Although some women are lucky enough to conceive naturally at this age, there is no denying that the chances of falling pregnant are a lot lower – especially after you reach your mid-forties.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, there's never been a better time for you to try to conceive given the range of fertility options that are available, like egg donation. Donated eggs, always taken from a younger female, can offer a much greater chance for you to conceive in your 40s when accompanied by IVF.
However, similarly to falling pregnant naturally, the chances of getting pregnant through IVF decreases the older you get, which is why we are finding increasing numbers of 40+ women opting for egg donation treatment to give themselves the best possible chance of conceiving.
Dr. Ferrando is a specialist at the IVI Fertility Clinic.