In times past, getting married and having babies at a young age ensured the perpetuation of the species. As societies became more complex, people began to marry later in life, shortening the number of their childbearing years. Today, matters of age and fertility have come to the forefront, as people establish their careers before starting their families. This delay can have a significant effect on the ability to have children by natural means and can even affect the success of conceiving by in vitro fertilization or other methods.
Human fertility begins before birth with the development of hormones that make people male or female. In the female, about one million egg-containing follicles are present at birth. These are all the eggs women have throughout their life. In contrast, men continue to produce sperm throughout their lives. By adolescence, the body produces secondary sexual characteristics and the body matures sufficiently to reproduce. By young adulthood, the body is at peak fertility to produce offspring. By thirty, fertility begins to diminish and continues to decrease with every decade.
Age and Fertility in Women
The peak years for conceiving a child are the 20s in women. Fertility begins to decline particularly after the age of 35 when changes in egg production occur due to aging. By the age of 30, a woman has a 20 percent chance of becoming pregnant each cycle. By age 40, the chance of success falls to 5 percent each cycle. By the mid-40s, the ability to have a successful pregnancy is significantly reduced. These natural factors impact the woman’s ability not only to conceive, but also to bring a pregnancy to a successful live birth. The natural aging process affects not only the ability to become pregnant naturally, but also to have successful outcomes from fertility any treatment.
Age and Fertility in Men
The decrease in fertility affects men at a much later age. However, by their 60s and 70s, both the shape and motility of sperm are affected by age-related changes in the body. In addition, as men age, they may develop a number of medical problems that may affect both sexual function and fertility. Even young men’s fertility can be affected by certain factors, such as wearing tight, brief underpants, riding bicycles with hard seats or frequent use of hot tubs, reducing sperm production and decreasing the odds for conception.
Infertility treatments can help to improve the odds of becoming pregnant and bearing a child, but it cannot overcome all age-related changes. Some methods of improving fertility include:
• Medications to stimulate egg production
• Supplements to support hormones
• Hormone injections to increase sperm production
• Surgical correction of anatomical problems that may prevent fertility or conception
Fertility treatments that may be beneficial include:
• In-vitro fertilitation (IVF)
• Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
• Inracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
Couples today are fortunate because science and technology usually provide a diagnose and the option to correct a number of problems related to fertility.
This was a guest post by Sarah Gotheridge. Sarah is a freelance writer, who enjoys writing about healthy living, tips on elderly care, and general care advice.