Last week, a story line on the TV show “Parenthood” had Sarah investigating getting pregnant after 40. She says to her ob-gyn: “I thought 40 was the new 30.” Her doctor replies: “Not for your ovaries.”
This exchange portrays a conversation fertility specialists wish they could have with young women everywhere. While opportunities today are limitless, there is a limit to ovarian function.
Do Female Eggs Have a Shelf Life?
When is the ideal age to try to get pregnant? Fertility specialists agree, between ages 20-34
The scientific community agrees that a woman is born with a finite number of eggs—around 1 million. Those eggs diminish to about 300,000 and release one at a time (sometimes more than one in the case of multiples) after the start of menses.
The optimal time to get pregnant, when egg quality peaks, is when a woman is in her 20s and early 30s. This is also the time when most American women are building careers and nurturing relationships.
In fact, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), nearly 20% of women wait until after 35 to get pregnant. By then, there is a 30% chance that those women will remain childless.
Here’s the shocker that Sarah’s TV doctor didn’t share with her: By age 40, the chance of a woman getting pregnant falls to about 5% per month, as compared with 20% per month in her 20s.
Can You Rescue Your Fertility?
The good news is that over 80% of women who see a fertility specialist go on to get pregnant.
However, the best advice that reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Karen Lee can give is to know the facts about fertility, and seek help if you’ve tried unsuccessfully for one year (6 months if you are over 35) to get pregnant.
While women can look and feel half their age, there’s no fooling the ovaries. As they said on prime time: There is a prime time for conceiving a child.
Contact the specialists at Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates to learn more about optimizing and preserving your fertility.