In recent decades, more women have been postponing pregnancy into their late 30s and 40s. However, the biological impacts of aging can make conceiving and carrying a healthy baby to term more challenging. Understanding how advanced maternal age affects fertility and pregnancy outcomes is crucial. Here, the leading high-risk pregnancy doctor in Dumdum highlights how ageing impacts the overall fertility experience.
Five ways aging can impact fertility
Aging can bring bouts of bodily transformations that can severely impair the journey to pregnancy. Here, a prominent high-risk pregnancy specialist shares five ways aging can impact fertility.
Diminished Ovarian Reserve
One of the most significant impacts of ageing on childbearing is decreasing ovarian reserve. Women are born with a set number of eggs, approximately 1-2 million, that decline with age. After 35, that reduction accelerates. By 40, a woman may have only 25% of her eggs left. With fewer viable eggs, older women have reduced fertility and require more cycles to conceive. Egg quality also deteriorates with age, leading to higher rates of chromosomal abnormalities. This increases the risks of miscarriage and conditions like Down Syndrome.
Reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) start to fluctuate and decline in a woman’s mid to late 30s. Irregular cycles become more common as women near menopause. Ovulation issues can also occur, making conception difficult. Hormonal changes are implicated in higher rates of conditions like endometriosis and uterine fibroids, which can also impede fertility.
Risk of Pregnancy Complications
Even if conception occurs, older mothers face increased risks during pregnancy itself. Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abruption, and intrauterine growth restriction are all more common with advanced maternal age. Older mothers also have higher rates of existing health issues like hypertension and diabetes, which can be dangerous in pregnancy. As a result, strict monitoring is required.
Preterm Delivery Risks
The chances of a premature delivery are substantially higher for older mothers. Weakened muscles, scarring from previous C-sections, reduced tissue elasticity, and hormonal changes make going into early labor or requiring an early delivery more likely. Preterm babies are at greater risk for myriad health issues, from underdeveloped lungs, jaundice, low birth weight, and neurological problems.
Interventions Like IVF
Because of declining fertility, older women often require interventions like IVF and egg donation to conceive. But assisted reproduction carries its own risks, like multiple births and low birth weights. Frozen embryo transfers from younger years may have higher success rates.While risks increase substantially with age, good prenatal care can help mitigate them. Women in their late 30s/40s considering pregnancy should optimize their health first, test hormone levels, consider preimplantation genetics, and work closely with the leading high-risk pregnancy doctor in Dumdum for the best chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.