Age and Fertility – Aging Effect for Women and Men

Age and Fertility – Overview

Fertile age is when it is possible to conceive, carry and give birth to a child.

Fertility changes with age. Both women and men become fertile in adolescence after puberty.

For boys, it is characterized by the production of viable sperm.

How does aging affect fertility for women and men

The fertility period starts and ends differently for men and women. We will cover both since the combination of both parents’ ages determines the likelihood of pregnancy.

Age of Fertility in Women

Women’s prime reproductive years start at around 20. Fertility gradually decreases by the age of 30 and steeply decreases after the age of 35.

Although women today are healthier and take better care of themselves than ever, improved health later in life can’t compensate for the naturally occurring decline in fertility due to age.

This decline may occur much earlier than most women expect, although this depends on the individual.

Every month, a healthy, fertile 30-year-old woman tries to get pregnant; there is approximately a 20% chance of it happening.

From 45 years old and above, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant is less than 1% per cycle.


The average age of menopause is 51.

After menopause, women are no longer fertile. In general, when a woman begins to age, her potential reproductive decreases and may end as early as 5-10 years before menopause.

In modern society, age is becoming a more and more common cause of infertility because, for various reasons, many women wait until the age of 30 or later to start their own families.

These percentages are true for natural conception, but IVF success rates vary significantly, generally lower, especially as age increases.

Although the media can often convince women and their partners that with IVF, they will be able to conceive a child, you need to know that a woman’s age greatly influences the success rates of infertility treatment.

It is important to note that maternal age is also a big factor in developing various chromosomal anomalies; for example, the risk of Down’s syndrome is approximately 1 in 1,250 for mothers aged 20 and 1 in 350 for those aged 35.

Screening and genetic tests are often recommended for older couples trying to conceive.

Reason for fertility decline with age

Why is it so difficult for a woman to get pregnant as she gets older? Some physiological causes explain fertility decline with age.

Eggs’ quality

As women age, they are less likely to become pregnant and more likely to miscarry as the quality of the eggs deteriorates and the number of remaining eggs decreases. Such changes are most pronounced in women closer to forty years old. For this reason, a woman’s age is the most accurate test of egg quality.

Loss of “ovarian reserve”

A decrease in the number of follicles containing eggs in the ovaries is called “loss of ovarian reserves.” Women begin to lose ovarian reserves before they become infertile, even before they stop menstruating regularly.

Since women are born with the same set of follicles and will have them throughout their lives, the number of follicles diminishes gradually with time.

As ovarian reserves decrease, follicles become less and less susceptible to IVF and require more and more egg stimulation to mature and ovulate.

Reproductive tract anomalies

Older age is one of the risk factors for developing diseases like uterine fibroids and endometriosis, which can be causes of infertility.

Fibroids are most common in women aged 30-40.

Age of fertility and men

In contrast to women, in men, the rate of decline in fertility occurs much later. It is true that with time, sperm quality deteriorates, but in general, it does not become a problem until the age of 60.

Men experience gradual changes in fertility and sexual activity, which become more noticeable with age.

Despite these changes, there is no maximum age at which a person can not conceive. As a man ages, his testosterone levels decline gradually, stabilizing around the age of 60.

Changes in men’s sex life can begin earlier, around the age of 50-60. The decrease in testosterone is the main reason for the changes that occur in men in their sex life.

Causes of fertility decline in men

  • Testes tend to become smaller and softer,
  • Sperm structure changes
  • Sperm motility tends to slow down.
  • Aging men often develop illnesses that can adversely affect their reproductive and sexual function, for which they should pay a visit to a urologist if they’re planning to conceive.

To sum up

Fertility naturally declines as you age. Even though the time of decline in fertility and the onset of menopause varies significantly in women, this period occurs in every woman’s life.

Fertility begins to decline slightly in the late 20s and more noticeably after age 35.

Women who decide to postpone pregnancy until the age of 35 and beyond should be realistic about the chances of success, be aware of the possibilities of conception, and, if necessary, use fertility therapy.

After reviewing all the options and realizing their needs and goals, the woman and her partner can make the best decision.

According to NCBI: “Public awareness of this fact is important as the age-related decline in fecundity leaves the clinician and the couple with limited treatment options.

From a pure fertility aspect, delay in childbearing should be avoided.”

Men’s fertility declines with age, too, but not as predictably and it mostly happens at much later ages than for women.

IVF Grants in the U.S.

See Also

IVF Scholarships

Blue Cross Blue Shield IVF Coverage

Does Medicare Cover IVF

Does Medicaid Cover IVF

Grants for IVF

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