The female fertility clock has been the subject of many debates over the years, but is there a best age to get pregnant?
Most fertility experts would say that there’s no ‘right time’ to start a family – but there are plenty of pros and cons to trying for a baby at different ages.
Here, internationally renowned Dr Ferrando of IVI Fertility Clinic discusses the various strengths and challenges of falling pregnant which couples within each age group should consider.
Getting pregnant through the ages
In Your 20s
Dr Ferrando says you are most fertile when you're in your twenties. At this point in your life, there's a high chance you will get pregnant.
If you're pregnant in your twenties it'll be easier than later in life because the risk of health complications like high blood pressure and diabetes is lower.
Medically speaking, your twenties are probably the best age to get pregnant, in terms of conceiving and carrying the baby, but when it comes to your lifestyle it might not be the best option.
In Your 30s
Dr Ferrando says as you grow older and move into your 30s, your body obviously ages, and so will your ovaries, this means your eggs will gradually start to deteriorate.
There isn't a set number that your fertility will start to decline, but many experts think it does start when you turn 30.
The process is gradual, but after you turn 35 your chances of getting pregnant starts to decline quite quickly.
your ovaries age along with the rest of your body and the quality of your eggs gradually starts to deteriorate. Although there is no ‘magic number’ at which female fertility starts to decline, many experts predict that this process begins once you hit 30. As this is a gradual process, your chances of falling pregnant in your early 30s are only slightly lower than in your late 20s, but once you reach 35 your chance will start to decrease fairly rapidly.
Body clock aside, there are actually several lifestyle advantages to becoming a mum in your 30s compared to your 20s. The most obvious is that you're more likely to be secure in your career and in your relationship, which will provide a firm foundation for your new family. On top of that, new mums in their 30s tend to have a lot of stamina and resilience due to their life experience, both qualities that come in handy for parenting young children.
For those who do decide to postpone motherhood for social reasons or other circumstances which thwart having a child, egg-vitrification – more commonly known as ‘egg-freezing’ - is fast becoming a popular option.
In Your 40s
Dr Ferrando says that a change in culture is resulting in more and more women waiting to get pregnant till later in life. Some women are still able to conceive naturally when they reach their forties, but the reality is the chances of getting pregnant at this point at lower than previous decades, especially when you reach your mid-forties.
But that shouldn't mean you dismiss the idea of having a baby, there are a number of different fertility options, an egg donation is a popular option for women of this age.
Donated eggs, always taken from a younger female, can offer a much greater chance of a woman conceiving in their 40s when accompanied by IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), where an egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory.
However, similarly to falling pregnant naturally, the chances of falling pregnant through IVF decreases the older you get, which is why we are finding increasing numbers of 40+ women opting for egg donation treatment; in order to give themselves the best possible chance of conceiving.