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The Biological Clock: Understanding How Age Impacts Fertility

By Prelude Fertility|November 29th, 2023

Like many other bodily functions, fertility is dramatically impacted by aging. As we get older, it becomes increasingly challenging to get pregnant naturally, especially as you reach your 40s. Whatever your family-building goals entail, understanding the role that age plays in fertility is a crucial point of knowledge. In this post, we’ll explore some of the most fundamental aspects of the biological clock of fertility.

The Effects of Aging on Female Fertility

Female babies are born with a set number of eggs, about 1-2 million, which naturally drops as the years progress. The peak female reproductive years range from the late teens to the late 20s, speeding up in the mid-30s, until the age of 45, when natural pregnancy is unlikely due to having a low number of eggs. In addition to being low in number, the eggs themselves start to lose viability after the age of 35.

How Male Fertility Is Impacted by Aging

Beginning at puberty, and throughout their adult lives, men can produce sperm, although fertility slowly starts to decline after 35. One 2011 study found that, in a 12-month period, men over 40 were 30% less likely to conceive than those under 30. At this point, men are more likely to have issues with sperm count and/or quality, including issues with sperm shape, motility, and DNA integrity.

When Fertility Care Is Necessary

While natural pregnancy in your late 30s and early 40s is possible, it’s not the norm. In many cases, if you’re 35 or older, there’s a good chance you’ll have to see a fertility specialist in order to conceive. The general rule of thumb for those 35 and older is to see a fertility specialist after six months of trying to conceive for an in-depth fertility evaluation. However, if you’re younger than 35, you can potentially wait for up to a year before seeing a fertility specialist.

Regardless of age, if you have other complications at play, such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, needing to undergo cancer treatment, a family history of infertility issues, or other signs of infertility, you should consider scheduling a fertility evaluation sooner rather than later.

Fertility testing consists of various testing procedures, including blood tests to measure hormones, ultrasound exams to examine internal reproductive organs, and semen analysis to assess sperm health. Depending on the findings, the fertility specialist will create a personalized treatment plan that not only addresses any fertility issues but also takes your personal goals and timetable into account. Common fertility treatment recommendations include:

Learn About the Effects of Aging on Fertility

Understanding the intricate relationship between age and fertility is crucial for aspiring parents who are navigating their family-building goals. As highlighted, both female and male fertility are significantly influenced by aging, underscoring the importance of timely fertility care when conception proves challenging. However, being armed with knowledge and having access to advanced fertility care options helps individuals to make informed decisions and enhance their chances of success as they pursue their path to parenthood. Stay informed, stay proactive, and empower yourself.

If you’re interested in scheduling a fertility evaluation with a leading fertility specialist, we invite you to connect with The Prelude Network® today.