Conditions

Understanding Infertility – The Age Factor

Women today are healthier and taking better care of themselves than ever before, but improved health in later life does not offset the natural age-related decline in fertility. Reference the chart below to see how fertility and age are correlated. Although there are treatments for many infertility conditions, an aging egg supply is one thing that cannot be stopped or reversed by exercise or medicine.

It is very important to remember that your fertility decreases with age, particularly after age 35. The table below taken from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine shows how age becomes more and more of an obstacle.

Infertility Increases With Age

Percentage of married women who are infertile by age group.

Percent chance

Age Group (years)

Percent Infertile

Percent Chance of remaining childless*

20-24

7

6

25-29

9

9

30-34

15

15

35-39

22

30

40-44

29

64

Adapted from Menken J, Trussell J, Larsen U. Age and infertility. Science. 1986;23:1389.

* Historical data based upon the age at which a woman marries.

Not only do women in their 40’s suffer from reduced egg quantity, often diagnosed as Diminishing Ovarian Reserve (DOR), but often egg quality is also affected. As you age, the eggs in your ovaries also age and are more likely to have genetic abnormalities. In addition, when eggs from older women are fertilized, the embryos are less likely to develop. For this reason, women who are over 40 are at increased risk for miscarriage.

If you are older, especially if you’re over 40, and have not succeeded with other therapies, your treatment options are somewhat limited. One option is egg donation. This process involves the use of eggs donated by another woman who is typically in her 20s or early 30s. If you are over the age of 40, eggs from a younger woman are more likely to result in pregnancy and are less likely to end in miscarriage, due to the correlation between fertility and age. Your chance of pregnancy is much higher in IVF cycles using donor eggs. The high success rate with egg donation confirms that egg quality is the primary barrier to pregnancy in older women.

If you would like more information on fertility and age or other infertility factors, request an appointment online. You can also call us in Jacksonville at (904) 260-0352, or Orlando at (407) 244-5515.

 

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