Fertility and Women’s age
Despite the substantial evidence of age–related decline in female fertility, many people are often ignorant of the risks associated with delaying childbearing.
In women, fertility is highest until about 30 years of age and then declines sharply. As more people choose to delay childbearing, increasing numbers of women face age-related fertility problems. Women over 35 years of age are nearly twice as likely to present with unexplained infertility. The incidence of genetic abnormalities and spontaneous abortion also increases with maternal age.
A study of New Zealand university students (Lucas and Shelling, University of Auckland) has revealed that New Zealand students have unrealistic beliefs about both the impact of age on fertility and success rates of fertility treatment. Most respondents (81%) indicated they wished to have children in the future, but planned to do this ‘late’ or ‘very late’. The students believed fertility treatment to be more successful than actual success rates. They also predicted fertility declined with age much later than it occurs in reality.
AMH testing may help indicate how critical time is, especially for women who will have earlier loss of ovarian reserve than average.
For older couples, it is even more imperative that they undergo a preconception health programme prior to conceiving to enhance their chances of a healthy pregnancy and child. Read further on this in the ‘Lifestyle’ section of Fertility Week.