In modern society, infertility associated with age-related changes in the reproductive system has become more common. There are many reasons why many girls start having families only after the age of 30. Age and fertility – today women have more opportunities to take care of themselves and monitor their health, but all this does not exclude an age-related decline in reproductive function. It is important to understand that fertility decreases as a woman ages due to the natural process of reducing the number of eggs in the ovaries. And this process can begin much earlier than most women expect.
Ovulation and menstrual cycle
During the reproductive age, women have regular menstrual cycles, during which the ovulation process occurs monthly. At the beginning of each cycle, follicle-stimulating hormone formed in the pituitary gland stimulates (to stimulate ovulation, you can use clomid, which you can buy online after being prescribed by a doctor.) the growth of a group of follicles in both ovaries. Usually only one of these follicles matures and releases an egg (ovulates), the rest stop growing and are destroyed. Pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized and fixed in the lining of the uterus (endometrium). If pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium comes out in the form of menstruation, and the cycle resumes.
At the beginning of adolescence, girls have “walking” ovulation, which leads to irregular menstruation, but by the age of 16, as a rule, a stable periodicity of menstruation is established. From this time on, the female cycle will remain stable, ranging from 26 to 35 days.
Unlike men, whose bodies produce sperm throughout their lives, a woman is born with an unchanged number of eggs with follicles contained in the ovaries. So, at birth, a girl has about a million follicles. By puberty, this number is reduced to about 300,000. Of all the remaining follicles, about 300 reach ovulation during reproductive age. The remaining follicles are not used during ovulation, but are involved only as the natural sequential process of degeneration, called atresia, passes.
As women age, fertility decreases due to natural age-related changes that occur in the ovaries. From about 30-40 years, you can notice that the cycle has become shorter. Over time, ovulation begins to disappear, menstruation becomes more and more rare until it stops completely. It is believed that the menopause stage occurs when a woman has no menstruation for a year. It is believed that women who like to smoke a cigarette or two have menopause a year earlier than non-smoking women.
Age and fertility: Fertility in aging women
The best reproductive years for women are considered to be the age of 20-30 years. Fertility gradually begins to decline by the age of 30, this trend is especially evident after 35 years. Every month, a healthy woman of childbearing age has a 20% chance of getting pregnant. That is, for every hundred childbearing 30-year-old women who try to get pregnant on the first attempt, only 20 will succeed, the remaining 80 will have to try their luck again. By the age of 40, this probability is less than 5%. Thus, less than 5 out of 100 women can successfully conceive during each month.
As we have already said, women remain fertile until the onset of menopause, the average age of onset of which is 51 years. However, most women fail to conceive a baby at the age of forty. These indicators apply both to those who are trying to get pregnant in the traditional way, and to those who are undergoing infertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization (IVF). Stories broadcast in the media can lead women and their partners to the erroneous idea that, no matter what, it is possible to get pregnant using procedures such as IVF. But do not forget that a woman’s age still affects the likelihood of a cure for infertility. The quality and quantity of eggs gradually decrease with age, which causes a decline in female fertility.
Fertility in aging men: Age and fertility
Unlike the early decline in fertility, which is observed in women, in men, the change in reproductive function occurs much later. Although the quality of sperm deteriorates somewhat as a man ages, this is usually not a problem until a man reaches the age of 60. Despite the fact that the problems that arise in men are not as sudden and noticeable as in women, changes in reproductive and sexual functioning also occur as they age.
At the same time, men do not have an age limit at which they cannot become a father, which is proved by gentlemen of 60-70 years of age who managed to successfully conceive offspring with their younger partners. However, as men age, the testicles tend to become smaller and softer, the structure of sperm changes, and sperm motility tends to slow down. Aging men often develop diseases that can adversely affect their reproductive and sexual functions. Moreover, with age there is a higher risk of the appearance of gene defects in spermatozoa. However, it is worth noting that not all men experience significant changes in reproductive or sexual function as they age, especially not men who maintain their health in good condition for many years.
In any case, if a man has problems with sexual desire or erection, he needs to seek treatment from a urologist. Reduced libido may be, among other things, associated with low testosterone levels.
When determining the cause of infertility, doctors can offer special treatment. However, sometimes there are cases in which it is not possible to detect any specific problems and the cause of infertility is considered “unidentified”. In case of unidentified infertility, or when traditional methods of treatment have not worked, assisted reproductive technologies can be used, such as superovulation using intrauterine insemination technology and in vitro fertilization (IVF). In the IUI cycle, infertility treatment is carried out with the help of drugs to increase the number of eggs in the ovaries. When these eggs are ready to ovulate, the selected partner’s sperm is placed directly into the female ovaries. This procedure is called intrauterine insemination (IUI) technology and does not cause any discomfort. IVF is a procedure for taking an egg and fertilizing it with a partner’s sperm in the laboratory, then the finished embryo is placed in the uterus. In each of these procedures, the sperm of the donor can be used instead of the sperm of the woman’s partner.
Fertility naturally declines as we age. Despite the fact that the time of fertility decline and the onset of menopause in women varies significantly, this period occurs in the life of every woman. As a rule, fertility begins to decline around the age of 30 and noticeably decreases at the age of 35. Women who decide to postpone pregnancy until the age of 35 and later should realistically assess the chances of success, have information about the possibilities of conception and, if necessary, the use of infertility therapy. Having familiarized with all the options and being aware of their needs and goals, a woman and her partner will be able to make the best decision.