Contrary to what you may have heard, your fertility does not come to a screeching halt when you hit 35. In fact, the majority of people who try to conceive in their mid to late 30s go on to have a successful birth. This is what pregnancy after 35 really means, and what you should know if you’re ready to conceive.
Age is an important factor, but it’s not the only one
Put simply, some couples in their mid-20s can have fertility challenges. Those in their late 30s may have greater fertility challenges and are more likely to need help to conceive.
Maternal or paternal age is definitely a factor in your ability to have a child. There’s no way to deny that. But, age is only one factor in your complex and unique fertility profile. Health conditions, like PCOS or endometriosis, also play a part. Lifestyle choices like smoking can too. Finally, those who are severely overweight or underweight may have issues conceiving.
On the other hand, those in their 30s have had time to develop their careers and may be more financially stable. They may be healthier, able to carve out more time to prepare for pregnancy.
If you waited to have kids, you likely did it for good reasons. Practice forgiveness first, knowing that your fertility journey is unique. Some people can have healthy pregnancies in their early 40’s, but the risk of no pregnancy, miscarriage or genetic abnormalities is increased.
How does age affect pregnancy?
As you age, your body does experience fertility changes. What those are and how quickly they occur vary from person to person.
Natural fertility peaks in the early 20s and gradually declines after that. The age of 35 doesn’t represent a impenetrable wall, it simply reflects that more people will experience age-related fertility issues at that time.
Most often, these include:
- Low egg supply
- Poor sperm count, motility, or morphology
- Higher rates of miscarriage (often due to age-related egg abnormalities)
- Increased incidence of related health conditions
The older you are, the likelier you are to experience these challenges.
What can I do to increase my chances of pregnancy?
If you’re trying to get pregnant after 35, it does look different from conceiving at 25. Here’s some things to be aware of as you get started.
1. Consider fertility testing
We discuss the benefits of pre-pregnancy fertility tests here, but overall testing can:
- Alert you to conditions that make pregnancy more difficult
- Help you see the effects of unhealthy lifestyle habits to make a change
- Put your mind at ease, if everything appears normal
If you do have fertility challenges, your doctor can suggest treatments or lifestyle changes to help.
2. Freeze your eggs if you’re still not ready
Your eggs are the healthiest they will be right now. If you’re planning to get pregnant in your late 30s or 40s, talk to your doctor about freezing your eggs now.
There is no guarantee that freezing your eggs will lead to a successful pregnancy, but it does help you increase your chances of a healthy birth. You can learn more about egg freezing here.
3. Talk to a fertility specialist after six months if you’re 35 or older
If you’re over the age of 35 and have tried to conceive for six months without success it is time to see a fertility specialist.
Time is of the essence after the age of 35, so it makes sense to have an expert helping you through your journey.
A fertility specialist can screen you for common infertility causes or provide guidance on assisted reproductive technologies, like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
4. Practice healthy and fertility-enhancing habits
It can be more difficult to conceive each cycle if you or your partner are over 35. Improve your chances by practicing healthy lifestyle habits, like:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking
- Getting enough sleep
Tracking your menstrual and ovulation cycles is also an important task. As we noted in an earlier post, “if women aged 35 to 40 had sex during the most fertile time in their cycles, the chances for pregnancy increased to 78 percent compared to 84 percent of women between 20 and 34.” For men, avoid prolonged heat exposure (like a sauna or hot tub) as this can affect sperm count.
If you’re over 35 and have been trying to conceive for six month, talk to a fertility specialist
Again, your choice how and when to have children is unique and deeply personal. Pregnancy after 35 may have additional challenges, but it’s completely doable especially with the right team by your side. The most important step is talking to a fertility specialist as soon as possible if you’ve been trying to conceive for six months after the age of 35.
If you’re in Louisiana or our neighboring states, we’d love to help at The Fertility Institute. We’re here to help you take the first step towards the family you’ve been dreaming of.