The Pros And Cons Of Trying To Have A Baby In Your 20s, 30s And 40s

For some lucky couples, conceiving a child will be an easy feat requiring only a few cheap beers and a night of boring re-runs.  But for others, getting the sperm and egg together for a meet-and-greet will take months of frustration, ovulation predictor kits, basal thermometers, and thousands of dollars in hormone shots and medical intervention. Author Joanne Kimes takes us through the pros and the cons of trying to conceive in your 20's, 30's and 40's.
By Joanne Kimes

One of the biggest influences on how challenging conception will be is your age. Why? The cold, hard truth is that as the decades go by, so do your chances for an easy conception.  But there are benefits to getting knocked up later in life so let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of conception in your 20s, 30s and 40s.

CONCEIVING IN YOUR 20'S

In your 20s conception usually happens easily (along with other abilities like looking good in a tube top and talking your way out of a speeding ticket).  Your eggs are at their farm fresh best so they’re ripe for fertilization.  Because they’re healthy, there’s less chance of chromosomal abnormalities (the chances of Downs Syndrome are only 1 in 1,000).  There’s also far less chance of suffering a miscarriage (only about 15%).  By the time a woman reaches her 20s, the once irregular menstrual cycles of her teen years now run like clockwork making ovulation prediction easy.

But even though it may be easier to conceive in your 20s, it may be harder to parent.  A younger mother will be less financial stable and more emotionally immature.  Plus, her relationship with her partner may not be as solid as someone who’s older (the younger the couple, the higher the separation rate). 

CONCEIVING IN YOUR 30'S

Although not as easy as in the previous decade, a woman in her young 30s shouldn’t have much trouble conceiving, although it can take an average of 3-6 months longer.  Also, in her 30s, a woman is more financially equipped to handle parenthood starting with a really cute maternity wardrobe! 

However, after reaching the age of 35, she’ll be given the dreaded label of “AMA: Advanced Maternal Age."  The reason is that women 35 and older are considered “high risk” due to the number of pregnancy and delivery related complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.  After 35, conception will be more of a challenge too since her eggs will start to show their age.  Because there is no Botox for eggs, this will translate to a higher miscarriage rate (about 25%) and more chromosomal issues (the risk of Downs Syndrome will be 1 in 400).  Another conception hurdle is that an “older” women will have had more time to develop endometriosis and uterine fibroids which would make conception that much more difficult.

CONCEIVING IN YOUR 40'S

Although the most challenging of all decades to conceive, a woman in her 40s does have some advantages.  Due to perimenopausal hormone fluxes, she’s more likely to release more than one egg each cycle upping her chances for fertilization. Also, because she’s the most financially sound, she’s better equipped to pay for medical treatments such as artificial insemination and invitro fertilization if they deem necessary.

But, although she’s had more time to plump up her 401K, her once ripe eggs have had more time to dry up like ovarian raisons.  Not only can conception easily take more than a year, but once her egg is fertilized, there’s more chance of chromosomal problems (Downs Syndrome rate is now 1-100 and by 45, it may be as high as 1 in 30) and of her pregnancy ending in miscarriage (about 40%).  In her 40s, her erratic menstrual cycle will make ovulation prediction that much more difficult. 

I don’t mean to sound so pessimistic, but yes, as you age, so does your reproductive system. To up your chances of conception, invest in an ovulation predictor kit to better pinpoint your fertile days, and make an appointment with a fertility specialist if you’ve been unsuccessful for a length of time. And, as hard as it may be, try to keep a smile on your face and hope in your heart and remember, as long as you haven’t reached menopause, “if there’s an egg, there’s a way!"


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