What Are the Facts About Trying to Conceive After 35?

Colleen always knew she wanted children, but she didn’t find the right man until she was older.  They waited a couple of years before trying to get pregnant, and by then she was 35 years old.  She still thought she had plenty of time, hearing so many stories of older women having children these days.  Well, it’s been over a year of trying to conceive, and she’s not pregnant yet.  Now what?  What does she need to know about getting pregnant after 35?

These facts are very important.  If you are 25 years of age and still thinking you have plenty of time to be a mother, it is time to seriously reconsider.  And always do everything you can to maintain vibrant health, no matter what your age.

What Are the Facts About Trying to Conceive After 35?

  • Your fertility peaks between 18-25 years of age, and 75% will be pregnant within a year
  • By your late 30’s, 65% will be pregnant within a year
  • By age 40, only 44% will be pregnant with a year

Infertility is defined as failure to conceive a pregnancy in a 12 month period for those under 35 years of age.  If you are over 35 you are considered infertile after 6 months of trying.

What is another way to look at these statistics?

  • One-quarter of women under age 35 have fertility problems
  • One-third of women age 35-39 have fertility problems
  • Two-thirds of women over age 40 have fertility problems

About 20 percent of women in the United States now have their first child after age 35. They are waiting for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Also, many do not understand the facts and statistics about their fertility. Women are born with a set number of eggs, and as they age these eggs are less viable. This is a physiological fact that cannot be changed by fertility drugs or lifestyle.

What are other risks if older than 35?

  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Birth defects
  • Pregnancy complications

Birth defects that increase are chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome.  The risk of having a child with chromosomal problems begin to increase over the age of 35, and continue to increase with each passing year.

Pregnancy complications include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, placental problems, premature birth, etc.

These basic facts do not change with assisted reproductory technologies (ART) such as IVF and ICSI.  As expected, women under age 35 have the highest pregnancy success rates. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics for success rates on ART for some fertility clinics in 2007 are shown below.

What percent of ART cycles led to a live birth?

  • 40% in women < 35 years of age
  • 31% in women 35-37 years of age
  • 21% in women 38-40 years of age
  • 12% in women 41-42 years of age
  • 5% in women 43-44 years of age

ART can be expensive and time-consuming.  As you can see from these statistics, the majority of women are not successful in having the baby of their dreams this way.  However, it has allowed many couples to have children that otherwise would not have been able to.  Taking the chance on success is a personal decision.

How can a woman over 35 increase her chances of conceiving and decrease chances of complications?

  • Nutrition – VERY, VERY important.
  • Avoid environmental toxins
  • Manage stress levels
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol or caffeine
  • Avoid drugs, legal or recreational

There are several posts on this site that address these issues.

To Your Vibrant Health!

Veronica Tilden, DO