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Maternal Age

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If you are struggling to fall pregnant, you are not alone. One in six Australian couples experience infertility.

Infertility is defined as a couple being unable to conceive after 12 months of regular unprotected sex, or if you are unable to carry a pregnancy to term.

The most common cause of infertility is a woman’s age. Other factors can relate to the female, male, a combination of both, or unexplained infertility.

Female Infertility Factors

The most common infertility factors in women are:

  • age
  • PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • endometriosis
  • miscarriage
  • cryptic causes such as fertilisation failure, poor quality eggs and implantation failure

Age

A woman’s age is the single most important factor affecting her fertility and whether she will have a baby.

Women are born with all the eggs they will have. Research shows female fertility is on average static until 30 years of age, then significantly declines in the late 30s and early 40s. Then on average, a 35 year old female will take twice as long to conceive as a 30 year old. A 40 year old female will take four times as long to conceive as a 30 year old. And one in two women, who were previously fertile, will not be able to conceive naturally by the age of 41 years.

As you get older, your egg quality also declines resulting in a higher chance of miscarriage, or your baby having a genetic abnormality like Down Syndrome.

Understanding how age affects fertility means you might decide to talk to your partner or doctor about having a baby sooner rather than later. If it’s not the right time for a baby, you might want to consider freezing some eggs now that can be used later.

While there is no doubt age is a factor, IVF can help increase the chances of pregnancy as women get older.

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