At a Glance
- Fertility declines as you grow older mainly because you have fewer eggs remaining in your ovaries as time passes by.
- Women in their 20s have more than 90% chance of getting pregnant and only around 3% chance of being infertile.
- The 30s is regarded by many to be the ideal decade to get pregnant. Around this age, most women are already prepared to raise a baby. At the same time, they are still biologically equipped enough to conceive and carry one.
- Almost 50% of women over 40 have fertility issues. Moreover, only less than 40% have a chance of conceiving if they’re in the early 40s.
Fertility by Age calculator
How Fertility Works
Fertility declines as you grow older mainly because you have fewer eggs remaining in your ovaries as time passes. Women are generally born with around 1 to 2 million eggs, and that’s all they get in a lifetime. Once they hit puberty, this number drastically drops to around 300,000 to 500,000 eggs. But throughout the reproductive years of a woman, only around 300 of them are actually released by the ovaries [Source: American Society for Productive Medicine].
Once a girl reaches reproductive age, she is set to ovulate every month. If the eggs remain unfertilized, she will continue to have menstrual periods until she reaches her late 30s or early 40s. However, menstrual cycles eventually get shorter and periods become more infrequent until they cease altogether. After a full year of not having a menstrual period, a woman is considered to be in menopause, which means she is no longer of reproductive age [Source: American Society for Productive Medicine].
It must be noted, however, that fertility issues may arise long before you reach the menopausal stage. As you age, your ovaries age as well. Consequently, the quality of your eggs deteriorates over time, making it harder and riskier to get pregnant. And unfortunately, this decline happens much sooner for some women compared to others.
Causes of Infertility and Impaired Fecundity
Women face two types of problems when trying to get pregnant: infertility and impaired fecundity. We define infertility as the difficulties in getting pregnant after a full year of trying to conceive. Impaired fecundity, on the other hand, applies to couples who have been struggling to conceive or carry a baby to term [Source: HRSA-MCHB].
According to the CDC, the following are the known or potential causes of infertility and impaired fecundity:
- Maternal aging
- Health conditions that interfere with ovulation (e.g., polycystic ovarian syndrome [PCOS])
- Sexually transmitted infections (e.g., chlamydia)
- Environmental toxins
- Lifestyle factors (e.g., smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity)
Likelihood of Pregnancy by Age
As previously mentioned, one of the known causes of having troubles with getting pregnant is natural aging. As such, it is important for women who are planning to have kids someday to know how good (or how terrible) their chances are of conceiving. They should also seek medical advice on whether they are still able to carry a healthy baby to term.
Know your probability of getting pregnant and being infertile according to your age by referring to the table below.
|Your Age||Likelihood to get pregnant within one year||Likelihood to be infertile|
|20 – 24||86%||3%|
|25 – 29||78%||5%|
|30 – 34||63%||8%|
|35 – 39||52%||15%|
|40 – 44||36%||32%|
|45 – 49||5%||69%|
Fertility and Pregnancy in Your 20s
If you’re only in your 20s and you feel like you want to have a baby of your own, then chances are very high that you will get pregnant within your first year of trying. Women in their 20s have more than 90% chance of getting pregnant and only around 3% chance of being infertile [Source: Science].
Of course, there’s more to having children than being biologically-equipped to conceive. You must be prepared mentally, emotionally and financially, too. That is why young women around this age choose to wait a few more years before they start a family.
Should You Get Pregnant?
Are you in your 20s right now? If you’re thinking about getting pregnant soon, below are some of the pros and cons that you should know.
- Best time to become pregnant and carry a child because fertility and physical strength are at their peak [Source: American Society for Productive Medicine]
- Lower risk of miscarriage (only 12% to 15% for women in their 20s) [Source: Cleveland Clinic]
- Lower risk of health complications (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes) [Source: Mayo Clinic]
- Less likely to suffer from gynecological issues (e.g., uterine fibroids) [Source: ACOG]
- Less likelihood of giving birth to premature or low birthweight infants [Source: ACOG]
- It might put your professional career on hold
- You may not be financially prepared to raise a child
- You may not be prepared yet to be a parent
If you’re not in a hurry to get pregnant, then why not consider freezing your eggs while you’re younger? Should you have difficulties conceiving later, you’ll have better chances with your younger eggs and through assisted reproductive technology (ART).
In the meantime, to deter pregnancy at this age, you may use contraceptives or calculate your safe days for sexual relations.
Fertility and Pregnancy in Your 30s
The 30s is regarded by many to be the ideal decade to get pregnant for two main reasons. First, many are already ready to raise a baby at this stage in their lives. And second, most women are still biologically equipped enough to conceive and carry a baby. However, be warned: Female fertility significantly decreases at this decade. The likelihood of getting pregnant in your early 30s is far greater than in your late 30s. After you reach the age of 35, not only will you have a lower chance of a successful pregnancy, you are also more vulnerable to other pregnancy-related risks such as miscarriages or multiple pregnancies [Sources: American Society for Productive Medicine, Mayo Clinic].
Should You Get Pregnant?
Are you in your 30s right now and thinking about having a baby? Here are some of the pros and cons of getting pregnant at this point.
- Financially stable enough to raise a child
- Have a more established career that’s flexible enough to accommodate the responsibilities that come with having a child
- Physically and psychologically equipped to raise and parent young children
- Fertility starts to significantly decline at 35 [Source: American Society for Productive Medicine].
- Slightly higher risk of having a miscarriage or giving birth to a baby with a genetic disorder (e.g., Down Syndrome) compared to women in their 20s. [Source: Mayo Clinic, NDSS].
- Women ages 35 and up are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy [Source: MedlinePlus].
- Mothers older than 35 have around 43% chance of having a cesarean delivery [Source: ACOG].
Fertility and Pregnancy in Your 40s
They say it’s never really too late to have a family of your own. That’s probably true. However, you also need to be a bit more realistic with your expectations of getting pregnant once you’re in your 40s. You only have less than 40% chance of conceiving in your early 40s, and it’s almost impossible to have a child with your eggs after 45 [Source: Science]. CDC reported that almost 50% of women over 40 have fertility issues, and women at this age only have about 5% probability of getting pregnant within one ovulation cycle [Source: Huffington Post].
Supposing you become pregnant in your 40s, you also have a higher risk of miscarrying compared to younger women. You are also likely to suffer from pregnancy complications, and you may give birth to a child with a genetic disorder.
Should You Get Pregnant?
If you’re in your 40s right now and thinking about having a baby, below are some of the pros and cons of getting pregnant at that decade.
- More financially secure
- Already have a stable career.
- Have more wisdom and experience for parenting
- May find it difficult to get pregnant
- Higher of miscarriage and birth defects
- May have a hard time while pregnant.
- Higher risk of suffering from pregnancy complications (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes, placental problems, etc.)
- More likely to give birth to a premature or low birthweight baby.
- Higher stillbirth rates
Thanks to our scientific and technological advancements in recent years, more and more women in their 40s are able to get pregnant. Nowadays, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is widely embraced as an alternative method of getting pregnant. It is a realistic option for those who managed to freeze their eggs before the age of 35. Other women try to get pregnant with the eggs from a young and healthy donor in her 20s or early 30s.
Tips on How to Boost Fertility
Your fertility may have an expiration date, but that doesn’t mean having a kid in the future is a lost cause. You may turn to fertility treatments or explore alternative methods of getting pregnant. There are also small things you can do to help boost your fertility and increase your chances of conceiving. For example, you can use a fertility calculator to know the days that you are likely most fertile.
Believe it or not, even the smallest changes in your lifestyle can make a huge difference. To help you on your mission to get pregnant, here are a few tips on how to boost your fertility:
- Tip #1: Watch your weight. Obesity or being too underweight can disrupt hormone production and the frequency of ovulation in women. A healthy BMI, on the other hand, can increase your chances of conceiving [Source: Mayo Clinic].
- Tip #2: Eat a balanced diet. Eating healthy has never hurt anyone and they’re particularly beneficial to those trying to get pregnant. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and reduce your intake of unhealthy and processed foods. Drink a lot of water, too.
- Tip #3: Visit the doctor regularly. Should there be a health issue that might affect your fertility, your doctor will be able to spot it early on and treat it before it worsens.
- Tip #4: Avoid working on a shifting schedule or the night shift. Adequate sleep and a healthy amount of stress can go a long way in boosting your fertility. Sleep deprivation may disrupt hormone production and ovulation. If possible, ask your employer for a steady work schedule [Source: WebMD].
- Tip #5: Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are among the well-known causes of female infertility. For your overall well-being and the protection of your ability to conceive, always practice safe sex. Limit the number of your sexual partners or stay in a monogamous relationship with a healthy man [Source: Mayo Clinic].