Getting Pregnant In Your 30s: Risks And Benefits
Planning early is always a good idea if you want to get pregnant sometime in your life. Most women are at their peak fertility in their 20s. However, many women these days are opting to wait till much later in life to conceive. Focusing on their careers and relationships during their younger years takes a higher priority. If you are in your 30s and trying to get pregnant, then this blog is for you. This post will discuss the benefits and risks of getting pregnant in your 30s and what you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
What are your chances of getting pregnant in your 30s?
It is one of the most common questions among women who are trying to conceive in their 30s. Although you are the most fertile in your 20s, your fertility decreases as you age, but the statistics are on your side. An average woman has about a 25% chance per cycle of getting pregnant in her 20s. This probability slips down to about 20% in her 30s. That said, fertility drops significantly after the age of 35. It is much more challenging to get pregnant after 35, but many women get pregnant in their 40s.
Understanding your fertility in your 30s
There are scientific reasons for the fall in fertility and getting pregnant after the age of 30. The number of eggs that a woman can produce throughout her lifetime is determined at birth itself. Women can’t make new eggs after their birth, which contrasts to men, who can produce sperm throughout their lives.
On average, the number of potential eggs present in a newborn is about one million. The number of these viable egg cells in the form of ovarian follicles continues to shrink as the baby grows.
By the time of your first period, you have only about 300,000 egg cells remaining in your ovaries. Out of these potential egg cells, about 300 to 500 cells will undergo development to form eggs that can fertilise throughout a woman’s lifetime.
It means that there is a limited number of eggs that a woman has, and as you age, both the number and quality of these potential eggs declines.
Some of the eggs will naturally perish, while others produce genetic changes that render them incapable of fertilisation. As you age, the possibility of such genetic mutations increases and lowers the chance of getting pregnant.
Getting Pregnant and Egg Quantity
As we saw earlier, you are born with about a million eggs. By the time you are 30 years old, about 90% of the eggs die off, and only 10% remain. The rate of decline in fertility in your early 30s is gradual, but as you move past 35 years of age, the fertility falls sharply. By the time you hit your 40s, the number of eggs in your ovarian reserve falls about 3%.
A fertility expert can estimate your ovarian reserve (number of mature eggs remaining) by measuring the levels of a fertility hormone called anti-Mullerian hormone. If you have a low ovarian account, your doctor might suggest In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Doctors use medicines to stimulate your ovaries to produce as many as 100 mature eggs per month during this procedure.
Getting Pregnant and Egg health
The number of mature eggs remaining in your ovarian reserve is not the only factor determining the chances of you getting pregnant. As you get older, the quality of your eggs also declines. The chances of mature eggs undergoing genetic mutations rendering them incapable of fertilisation also increase as you age. The eggs might have fewer or more chromosomes that might result in a child having congenital disabilities or might not complete fetal development at all. The quality of your eggs declines throughout your 30s. By some estimates, nearly a third of your eggs are considered to be genetically abnormal. The number jumps to almost half by the time you hit your 40s.
Genetic mutations increase the risk of congenital disabilities such as Down syndrome in babies born to mothers who are above 35. Official numbers suggest that 1 in 952 babies are born with Down’s syndrome to mothers above 30. The number significantly increases to 1 in 378 if the mother’s age is above 35 years. Unfortunately, there is no test to determine the quality of eggs you have. We can estimate the number of eggs but not their quality with current testing methods. IFV can help in this situation as we can have a genetic test of the embryo before implantation in the womb.
Benefits of getting pregnant after 30
Although you are the most fertile in your 20s, it might not be the right time to get pregnant for everyone. Many women prefer to have children later in life in their 30s when they are in better shape, have settled in a healthier lifestyle, and have a secured career.
Many women rate their physical condition to be better in their 30s compared to their 20s. There can be several reasons for this assumption. You might not have followed a strict exercise routine during your 20s as it was pretty easy to maintain your body weight. Some women also report devoting more time to their health and general well-being in their 30s compared to their 20s. Many women are in the early stages of their careers in their 20s and might hold off getting pregnant until they feel more secure.
You have a more consistent routine by the time you are in your 30s. As a result, you have a much healthier lifestyle. During your 20s, you might not have paid attention to what you eat; binging on fast food and ramen is a staple for every college-goer. By the time you are in your 30s, many women start to pay close attention to what they eat. Opting for a home-cooked meal instead of a restaurant. Also, you can afford better quality ingredients when you are financially better off in your 30s.
The time and quality of sleep also improve while you are in your 30s. School/college work has kept us awake many a night. It is common amongst women in their 20s to have an erratic sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep goes a long way in maintaining good health.
Having a baby is a big financial responsibility. Women in their 20s might not be prepared to take such a risk. Besides, many women in their 20s don’t even know what they want to do in life, and a baby can certainly complicate things. Getting pregnant in your 20s gives you less time in the workforce, and you might have to sacrifice many career aspirations early on.
Getting pregnant after 30 years of age might be starkly different. You might have a stable job, able to save enough money for the baby’s first expenses, such as a car seat and a stroller. You might have set off on a career path that you are comfortable with, and your maternity leave won’t jeopardise your journey through the corporate ladder.
Risks of getting pregnant in your 30s
There is no denying that getting pregnant in your 30s comes with certain potential risks. Complications in pregnancy such as miscarriages, Genetic abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome, and multiple pregnancies can potentially increase in your 30s. That said, you can manage these risks by taking proper prenatal care and opting for facilities that can handle high-risk pregnancies better.
Losing a pregnancy comes with both physical and emotional consequences. Mothers over the age of 30 years should prepare themselves for facing such a situation. The risk of miscarriages rises after you cross 30 years of age and occur due to the genetic mutations that render the embryo incapable of survival.
As we discussed earlier in the post, these genetic mutations are more prevalent in older mothers. That said, the risk of miscarriage is still relatively low in your 30s. The data indicates that about 12% of pregnancies result in miscarriages at the age of 30. The number slightly increases to 18% by the age of 35. The risk of miscarriage increases if you have had one earlier in your life.
Most women get their regular periods 4-6 weeks after a miscarriage, and they can start trying to conceive again.
Down syndrome and other genetic defects in babies are more common if the mother is above 30 years of age, as the quality of the eggs decline. Down syndrome is the most common genetic abnormality in the USA and results from an extra copy of chromosome number 21 (three copies instead of two; hence, trisomy 21). The chances of having Down syndrome are about 1 in 1250 pregnancies when the mother’s age is below 30.
The number significantly jumps to 1 in 100 when the mother is 40 years and above. Suppose you have a baby with Down syndrome already. The odds increase for the next baby. Down syndrome can lead to specific health problems in the child, including learning disability and heart issues. That said, many children with Down syndrome can live a long and happy life, albeit with special education and support.
Twins and Multiples
Multiple pregnancies are when you give birth to more than one child at once. Women over the age of 30 are more likely to have twins compared to younger women.
One of the reasons attributed to this is that Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) increases as you age. FSH causes the maturation of the ovarian follicles. Having higher levels of FSH might lead to having more than one follicle mature during any given cycle. As a result, the ovaries can release two or even three eggs at once, resulting in twins and even triplets.
One of the riskiest things in multiple pregnancies is the chance of premature birth. As many as 60% of twin births are premature. Babies born prematurely might have fragile health, low birth weight, and might even need special intensive care.
Advice for getting pregnant in your 30s
Pregnancy in your 30s is not always easy. You can’t expect to get pregnant just by having intercourse during the right time in your cycle, quitting alcohol, or taking prenatal vitamins. Here are some things that might help you to get pregnant in your 30s:
- Keep track of your hormones: Tracking your fertility hormones can make your journey to getting pregnant a tad easy in your 30s. Ovulation kits from Fertility2Family can help you predict your ovulation and fertility window with a high degree of accuracy so that you can plan.
- Start taking Conceive Plus Prenatals early. Conceive Plus Women’s Fertility Support (Female Prenatals) assist by providing key fertility ingredients, vitamins and minerals that support the female reproductive system for women trying to conceive. Conceive Plus Women’s Fertility Prenatal Vitamins contains key ingredients include Myo-Inositol and Folic Acid. Myo-Inositol and Folic Acid together have been proven to assist with PCOS and results in better fertilisation rates and a clear trend to better embryo quality.
- Maintain a balanced lifestyle: Your body needs proper nutrition and regular exercise if you try to get pregnant after 30. Make sure that you follow a routine that is stress-free and easy to maintain. Talk to your fertility expert about your dietary needs and exercise, and take your prenatal vitamins religiously.
- Seek support: The journey to motherhood in your 30s is certainly not an easy one. It might get frustrating if it takes longer to conceive than you might have thought. Ensure that you are amongst family and friends to provide you with all the emotional support you might need.
- Monitor any problem closely: Make sure that you observe any potential problem closely. Go for regular checkups and choose a hospital that is capable of handling a possible high-risk pregnancy.
- Consider genetic testing: Certain genetic tests can reveal any potential problems with the baby. You might be better prepared if you know certain things in advance, such as whether the baby might need any special treatment or support. You and your partner can also get tested to rule out that you are a carrier of any genetic disorder. Once pregnant, the doctors can do tests on the amniotic fluid and maternal blood to reveal congenital abnormalities.
When to seek professional help?
The chances of getting pregnant after the age of 35 declines drastically, even with fertility treatments. Hence, it is crucial to consult with your OB-GYN if you spot any potential issues. Visit your doctor if
- You have been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for a year if you are under 35 and six months if you are under 30
- You have been diagnosed with endometriosis, PCOS, or other health condition that can hurt your fertility.
- If you have had a problematic pregnancy in the past
- If you have had multiple miscarriages in the past when trying to get pregnant