Why is it More Difficult to Get Pregnant After 35?

June 27, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Steven A. Morgan, M.D. contributes to topics such as Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Is your biological clock really ticking?

Well…there’s no ‘official’ age where a woman’s pregnancy becomes high risk, but pregnant women or those trying to conceive who are over the age of 35 may find there are additional challenges compared to when they were younger.

Explained below are some of the reasons why pregnancies can be more complicated as you age. Despite the obstacles, rest assured that women in their 30s and 40s can conceive and go on to have successful pregnancies.

Age Affects Your Eggs

A natural age-related decline in fertility is due to fewer eggs, less frequent ovulation and poorer egg quality. As you age, you may be less likely to release an egg during every cycle. Additionally, the quality of eggs can decrease in your 30s and 40s.

As a woman ages, the eggs she still has left are also more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities that can cause Down Syndrome and other developmental issues in children.

Conditions Progress Over Time

If you experience endometriosis, fibroids or uterine disorders, you may face challenges getting pregnant, especially as you get older. Women who have chronic health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure may also find increased obstacles when trying to conceive.

Some of these conditions cause hormonal imbalances, and those imbalances put your fertility at risk. Other conditions, such as endometriosis, interfere with the way your uterus functions, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant.

Other Ways Age Impacts Pregnancy

As you age there’s a greater likelihood that you’ve experienced a surgery or infection. Either of those can cause scar tissue around the fallopian tubes or cervix, negatively impacting fertility.

There’s also a natural decrease in cervical mucus as you age, which is a key part of conception. Cervical mucus helps sperm survive, getting it through the cervix, into the uterus and to the fallopian tubes.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, one in four healthy women in their 20s or 30s will get pregnant in any menstrual cycle. By the age of 40, that number drops to one in 10 women. Men’s fertility declines with age, too, but not as predictably as a woman’s fertility.

Your Fertility Timeline

Trying to conceive with no luck? “If you’re under the age of 35 and have not gotten pregnant after six months of actively trying, you should contact a doctor,” says Steven A. Morgan, M.D., an OB/GYN practicing in Brick and Ocean Township.

“The average time it takes a couple over 35 to conceive is one to two years; you may not become pregnant immediately but that does not mean you cannot have a baby,” he adds.

If you are older than 40 years and want to get pregnant, doctors recommend a full medical evaluation. A medical assessment can be especially useful if you have an issue that can impact your fertility, such as endometriosis, Dr. Steven Morgan notes.

“When you can identify any fertility-related issues as soon as possible, you may be able to increase the window for fertility,” he adds. “It’s worth the visit to your doctor.”

Steven A. Morgan, M.D., is affiliated with Ocean Medical Center and Jersey Shore University Medical Center. To schedule an appointment, call 732-531-1136. To find an OB/GYN near you, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org.

Sources
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
American Pregnancy Association

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.