Many women wait until they are well into their thirties before they start having babies, but a presentation by experts at the British Science Festival in Newcastle highlighted the fact that putting off having babies until later in life isn’t always the best idea.
Fertility rates gradually decrease with each passing year of a woman’s life, and they start to really drop off sharply once she passes 35. With many women delaying childbearing in favor of career advancement or other factors, it is often assumed that the amazing science and technology that is available to help with fertility issues will be successful for her many years down the road, but that is not always the case.
Dr. Jane Stewart is a physician who treats patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), and she said that if women want to have a good chance of having a baby, they should do so before they turn 35. Not only does the rate of conception fall with climbing years, but a woman’s egg quality also degrades over time, which can lead to more chromosomal problems and an increased rate of miscarriage.
Unlike men, women are born with all of the reproductive cells they will ever have. As she ages, her eggs do too. Medicine is also advancing with each passing year, but the experts on the panel don’t believe that it will ever advance far enough to alleviate this problem for older women who want to be a mom.
IVF, while very expensive, can often work for women who aren’t able to conceive on their own, but even that isn’t guaranteed to work -- so it shouldn’t be counted on. One option suggested for women who want to delay childbearing is an egg retrieval while they are young to use for IVF at a later date.
The other side
However, having a baby by the midpoint of a woman’s fourth decade isn’t always practical or possible, especially if she doesn’t meet her partner until she is near or past that age. Many women, myself included, have healthy pregnancies at age 35 or beyond. Of course, that is anecdotal, but I hope that hopeful moms-to-be who are over that age aren’t discouraged before they try for a pregnancy.