Pregnancy: Does Age Really Matter?
Does age impact fertility? Simply put, yes, age does affect fertility. The older the female is while conceiving the more troubles will she encounter during the process of conception and implantation of the fertilized egg. Why Does Age Matter? When a woman is born, she already has the exact amount of eggs in her ovaries she will release over the course of her life. The eggs begin to age from the very first day of life and begin releasing during the first menstrual cycle. As time passes by, the eggs age along with the woman and often lose their prime ability to fertilize and implant properly. The implantation process depends less on the fertilization aspect of conception and more on the uterine age. The endometrial lining deteriorates as the female ages and therefore tends to work less effectively as she gets older. The endometrial lining is that place where the fertilized egg will implant and if this lining does not attach the fertilized egg firmly, then implantation may not be a success and a miscarriage may occur. How does age affect reproduction? Several factors contribute to reduced fertility with age. As men age, there is a decrease in sperm counts, though it generally remains within the normal range. Men have fathered children even in their 70s and 80s. The regularity of intercourse also tends to decline with age. However studies of women undergoing artificial insemination with donor sperm still showed reduced pregnancy rates with age. By far, the most important factor affecting fertility is the age of a woman's eggs. Older women have a poorer and not so good a response to stimulation with fertility drugs. The older eggs have greater chance of being genetically abnormal, thus decreasing the likelihood that the fertilized egg (or the embryo) will implant in the uterus (womb). A genetically abnormal embryo will by and large be miscarried or, if carried to term, would result in a child having birth defects. As there is no way to correct these genetic problems, the decreased pregnancy rates as well as increased risks of miscarriage and birth defects continue with all possible treatments for infertility in older women. Chromosome Problems and Age Another important consideration when trying to conceive in the later years of life are chromosome abnormalities. The older female is more apt to conceive a child having chromosome problem than a younger woman. Ovulation Issues As the hormone levels alter with age, ovulation can become sporadic. Ovulation is that time of the month when the female ovaries release the egg which is ready for fertilization. If ovulation becomes sporadic, the female might have trouble conceiving. The Perfect Age for Conception The female body was created to conceive children early in life. Earlier, women were married at the age of 14 or younger. The first menstrual period was a signal that she was ready to start a family. As time passed, societal changes redefined the proper age for mothers but the female body did not change. From the age of 20, fertility starts declining. Once a woman reaches the age of 35, issues such as hormonal changes, age of stored eggs as well as the efficacy of the endometrial lining all play a part in the ability to conceive and carry a child. Health Issues and Fertility Another major factor linking age of the female to fertility problems are health issues and illness. The older the female, the more apt she is to suffer from age related conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Such conditions can all play a negative part in the conception and implantation of fertilized egg. While an older woman has the ability to conceive, age related issues may present themselves making it difficult for the aging female to become a mother in comparison to her younger counterparts. On a good note, the advent of infertility treatments and fertility drugs is helping women give birth to children well into their 40's. Just because the female body is aging does not necessarily mean that there is no chance of starting a family later in life.