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Understanding Fertility Odds by Age

Take care of your fertility at any age!

May 31, 2019
Bridget Houlihan

As women age, their eggs age with them-- which can make it harder to get pregnant later in life. More and more women are waiting to start their families, but unfortunately, biology has yet to catch up. This means that many women are struggling to start their families naturally, and have turned to infertility treatments such as IVF and IUI as a result. Depending on her age, the likelihood of success is still rather low, even with assistance. Is there anything women can do about this? Thankfully, yes, there are ways to take care of your reproductive health at any age-- and boost your fertility at the same time.

In this article we’re going to discuss:

  • How age affects your fertility odds
  • Does IVF help your chances of pregnancy?
  • What can you do in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s to increase your fertility?

women laughing
Your age affects your fertility, and your chances of becoming pregnant.

How Age Affects Fertility Odds

Women’s fertility reaches its peak in her late 20s, and can start to decline after age 30. Unfortunately, the dreaded biological clock is a reality-- no matter how much we don’t want to believe it. However, everyone is different-- there are some women in their 20s who struggle to get pregnant, while another woman in her late 30s can get pregnant after just a month of trying.

The reason for the decline in fertility is that women are born with a fixed number of eggs-- and the quality of those eggs declines with age. Human reproduction is also not the most efficient process-- and even if all circumstances are ideal-- a woman only has about a 15-20% chance at conception each month. Pregnancy odds by age are generally considered to be how likely it is for a woman to become pregnant within one year, depending on her age:

  • In her 20s, 78-86% chance
  • From age 30-34, 63% chance
  • From age 35-39, 52% chance

There is a large drop off after age 35, which is when most doctors agree that a woman’s fertility significantly declines. This chance decreases even further for women in their 40s and 50s-- which is why most need to to turn to infertility treatment for assistance.

pregnant woman
IVF treatment can be helpful to women at any age-- but especially for those over 40.

Does IVF Help Your Chances of Pregnancy?

As we mentioned above, everybody is different, and just because you’re in your 20s, doesn’t mean you won’t struggle with infertility as well-- it’s just that the chances are lower that you will. Because many women have waited to start a family-- taking time to complete education, get a stable job, and travel-- there has been an increased need for fertility treatments. The most successful form is IVF, and it has a success rate of of 20% per menstrual cycle.

The effectiveness of this treatment also decreases with age, and clinics usually have an age limit where they will accept the eggs of the woman. Around 45 years is typically when clinics will advise a woman use donor eggs instead. Again, this is because the egg quality declines as women age. Although it can help women at any age dealing with infertility with conception, women in their 40s and 50s will typically need IVF treatment to become pregnant.

healthy vegetables
Diet and exercise are key components to increasing fertility at any age!

What Can You Do to Increase Your Fertility?

There are some things you can do at any age to increase your pregnancy odds and take care of your reproductive health.

In your 20s

Doctors recommend cultivating and sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re interested in starting a family in your 20s-- or just preparing your body for starting one in your 30s, try to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight (being overweight or underweight is not helpful) and get a good amount of exercise-- this helps with physical as well as mental health.
  • Eat antioxidant rich foods like berries, beans, and nuts
  • Limit alcohol intake

In your 30s

Of course diet and exercise play a big role in maintaining a healthy weight and making sure you get your nutrients. In order to boost fertility odds in your 30s:

  • Consider following a fertility diet
  • Decrease stress by exercising, starting yoga, or meditating
  • Be smart with supplements

In your 40s and 50s

Most women will require some form of infertility treatment at this age, but there are some additional diet and lifestyle choices you can make that will boost your pregnancy odds in your 40s and into your 50s:

  • Make sure to take a good prenatal vitamin
  • Quit alcohol altogether-- it can impede your ability to conceive
  • Avoid high impact exercise-- but make sure to to still incorporate some less intense physical activity such as walking

Women who are waiting to start there families can run the risk of running into difficulty conceiving. There is hope though, and there are many things you can do to boost your fertility at any age. It may be challenging, but it is still possible to become pregnant later in life, and many women have successfully done so.


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