As we grow older our bodies become less capable of doing what they could in our youth, and that’s particularly true when we think about fertility. You are less likely to conceive a baby naturally in your 40s than you are in your 20s, which is a fact based on the number of eggs a woman begins with and how they decline over the years due to menstruation. Most of us have heard the term ‘biological clock’ and as women approach their 30s this ‘clock’ begins to tick louder and louder. We’re going to try and answer some of the burning questions you may have about your biological clock and its impact on your fertility…
What is fertility?
Before we look deeper at the female biological clock it’s important to define what is actually meant by ‘fertility’. It is defined as the rate of childbearing in a population and remains relatively stable up until 30 years of age, with around 400 pregnancies for every 1000 women not using contraception in one year. After the age of 30 the fertility rate begins to decrease steadily until 45 years old when, at that age, only 10% of women will conceive naturally when not using contraception.
What happens to fertility as we age?
The rate of fertility in the population declines with age, but at the same time the risk of miscarriage also increases, making pregnancy even more difficult for some women. Statistically speaking around 10% of women aged 20 will miscarry, compared to 90% of women aged 45 or older.
What is the biological clock?
This term is often used to describe the increased maternal instincts of women as they get older. This usually occurs during the time that the window of opportunity for pregnancy starts to reduce. To put it simply – the older you get, the broodier you become, but the lower your chances of getting pregnant are.
Doctors tend to agree with the theory of a ticking biological clock as the optimum age for a woman to carry a child is between 20 and 35. It is between these ages that a woman is most fertile and least likely to experience other complications from the pregnancy. However, despite this the average age of first-time mothers is certainly on the rise.
Have I left it too late to start a family?
If you’re heading into your 40s you may be worried that you have left it too late to have a baby, but that is not always the case. If your mother and grandmother had children later in life then you may be okay because fertility can run in families.
If you feel that your biological clock is starting to take over your life then the first thing to do is discuss it with your partner and decide whether now is the right time to have a child. If you both sensibly agree that you want to begin trying to conceive then there are a number of things that you can do to boost your chances:
- Take vitamins: Begin taking a folic acid supplement three months prior to attempting to conceive. Folic acid reduces the chances of your baby having spinal tube defects.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: When consumed during pregnancy, alcohol can cause birth defects, and caffeine has been linked to higher rates of miscarriage.
- Get healthy: Your body will be your unborn child’s home for 9 months – make sure it’s a good one. Do regular moderate exercise, eat a nutritious, balanced diet, and give up smoking.
- Speak to your GP: Prior to trying for a baby it’s advisable to see your GP to make sure any medication you’re on is safe for pregnancy, and that your vaccinations are up to date.
If your biological clock is ticking but you’re having trouble trying to conceive then get in touch with us for a fertility consultation. We’re the fertility experts and have helped many couples to achieve their dream of becoming parents.