Fertility Blog

Age-Related Sub-Fertility

Question:**Answer:** For women in their late 30s, it is naturally going to take longer to get pregnant. They are experiencing what I like to call “age-related sub-fertility.” Some may be lucky and become pregnant right away. However, for the majority of women, as we age fewer of the eggs we ovulate are chromosomally normal; and therefore fewer ovulations result in the release of a normal egg. It just may take more ovulations before that normal egg is released, fertilized, implants, and succeeds in becoming a baby. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 eggs are normal at age 35, about 1 in 10 at age 40, and only 1 in 25 at age 45. So, at age 38, if about 1 in 8 eggs are normal, you may have only 1 or 2 chances a year for successful conception. If your intercourse was not well-timed that cycle or there was some other subtle inefficiency, the chance for conception may be lost. The catch-22 with age-related sub-fertility is that it takes longer to get pregnant and meanwhile, you are getting older and your egg quality is also declining. For this reason, many women seek treatment with fertility medications or IVF as they get older. These treatments can increase the number of eggs produced and exposed to sperm in a single month, thus improving the odds that normal eggs will be found. The good news is that for most women still in their 30s, fertility treatments for age-related sub-fertility are often successful. -- Carolyn Givens, M.D.

Posted on May 26th, 2009

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