Are You Too Old To Have A Baby?
The biological clock is ticking.
Like it or not, that statement is not an orthodox way to tell people to have babies early. There is a lot of truth in it. Many women postpone having children until their 30s or even later for various reasons, career-building being one of them. But this can lead to complication when they finally make an attempt to extend their family.
Infertility, complications in pregnancy are very common these days and the age of a woman is a big factor in that. In this blog, we talk about how age affects fertility in women and what you can do to protect your chances of having children.
(Don’t worry; we won’t ask you to quit your jobs and become baby-squirting machines at 20 years of age.)
First, let’s see how age and fertility are connected.
How Age Affects Fertility In Women
Your Egg Count Decreases
Each woman is born with her sack of eggs containing nearly a million eggs. But very few of them are of good quality. When she reaches puberty, each month, during ovulation (roughly 14 days from the first day of your monthly period), the ovary releases a few mature eggs. But many of them die on their way or when they remain unfertilised. As the woman ages, the number of eggs starts decreasing. By the time the woman reaches her 40s, only a few hundred eggs are left. This reduces the chance of fertilization.
Your Egg Quality Reduces
What makes an egg qualified to be of a ‘good’ quality? Well, the egg has to be of the right shape, the right size and should have sound chromosomal structure. It must have a good health which is able to withstand the process of fertilization by a sperm cell and eventually grow into an embryo and then into a healthy baby.
First of all, all the eggs that a woman is born with do not fit that criterion. Again, as a woman ages, her eggs become older too. The eggs gradually lose the health and energy it had when it was younger. Just like pregnancy at a very young age is not safe because the eggs are not matured enough, pregnancy at an older age is difficult because the eggs are too old.
Why Is Egg Quality So Important?
Conceiving is not enough. A fertilised egg has to live through the tenure of pregnancy and then has to be born as a healthy baby. For an embryo, it is a long and difficult journey. Many things may go wrong if the egg wasn’t strong enough. Such as:
- Genetic misformation
- Birth of an unhealthy baby
It’s not about genes & survival. Even if the first struggle is won and the embryo is healthy, it still has to survive the gestational period and the mother has to carry the child in her womb for the full term of pregnancy. If the mother is of an advanced age, many concerns may arise related to the health of the mother and the child. The mother will be in a higher risk of gestational diabetes and preterm delivery. This, in turn, will affect the health of the child.
Can You Prevent Age-Related Infertility?
Well, you cannot stop time. You cannot prevent ageing. But with healthy lifestyle choices, you can keep yourself and, by extension, your eggs a little more healthy. For that, you must maintain proper weight with diet and exercise. Needless to say, you cannot give in to the temptation of fast food or other types of unhealthy food. Tobacco, alcohol & drugs are a big NO. Even then, if you plan on a late pregnancy, you should always be in touch with your gynaecologist and go for regular checkups to make sure that your eggs are not dying out.
However, even with the best care, you cannot immortalise your eggs. The fact is that fertility in women start decreasing in their late 20s and the rate of egg degeneration paces up after 35 years of age.
What Are Your Options Now?
The best way would definitely be to plan your pregnancy around the time you are in your early or mid-20s. But, after all, it’s your call.
If you wish to wait it out, the solution you are looking for is called Assistive Reproductive Technique or ART. Here are your options:
- Cryopreservation: If you have the resources, pre-planning would be the best way to go about it. Say, you are in your 20s and you are working hard to make a good career. But 7-10 years from now you would like to start a family. In that case, you can goo for oocyte cryopreservation or egg freezing.
If you opt for this method, very good quality eggs will be retrieved from your system and preserved for future use. These eggs will always stay fresh & healthy. You can use these eggs when you decide to get pregnant.
- Fertility Medicines: Using certain medicines can help your ovaries to release more eggs increasing the chance of fertility. However, you must not use these fertility drugs on your own. Such drugs should only be taken when they are prescribed by a fertility expert after careful examination of your reproductive health.
- IUI: If the woman’s reproductive system is unable to carry the ejaculated sperm up to the egg, the couple can opt for IUI or Intrauterine Insemination. In this process, the sperm is artificially placed into the woman’s uterus where a sperm can eventually fertilize an egg.
- IVF / ICSI: If a couple is unable to conceive naturally, eggs an sperms from the partners are retrieved medically and they are put together in a lab where they can fertilize in optimal conditions. This process is called In-vitro Fertilization (IVF). However, if fertilization does not occur even after that, ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) can be done where a micro-needle is used to inject one sperm into an egg forcing fertilization.
- Donor Eggs & Surrogacy: As a last resort, if all other forms of ART fail to give you a successful pregnancy because you have no viable eggs, you can opt for donor eggs. Similarly, if your body is unable to support a full term pregnancy, now you can opt for a surrogate to help you through the process.
Advanced medical techniques allow you to deal with infertility a lot better these days that it did a few decades ago. But, even the best fertility doctors can do only so much. If you are a little older and are unsuccessfully trying to conceive, do not wait much longer. With every passing month, your chance of getting pregnant is decreasing. Visit our fertility experts at Neelima Mom Hospital to track your chances of pregnancy and to know how you can handle the situation in the best possible way.
About The Hospital:
At Neelima MOM Hospitals we have been creating miracles every day, for over 20 years. Regardless of your situation, our nationally recognized fertility specialists can work closely with you to develop a personalized fertility treatment plan, including IVF, PGD, egg donation & and other fertility options. As a leading destination for fertility tourism and travel, our fertility centre offers hope to patients around the world. Neelima MOM Fertility Center takes your dreams seriously and is dedicated to providing compassionate care, so why not get to know us better…
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