The latest UK statistics show that that half of women are now childless at the age of thirty for the first time since records began in the 1920s. A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that 50.1% born in 1990 were still child free by their thirtieth. This follows the long-term trend of people opting to have children in later life and a smaller family.
The most common age to have a child is now 31. This is in direct contrast to baby boomers, born in the late 1940s, who were 22 on average when they began their families.
An explosion in opportunities for studying at university and pursuing careers was the catalyst for this trend and modern pressures such as the rising cost of childbearing and job uncertainty are also impacting the decision to start a family. But, at what cost to fertility?
Age affects fertility for both men and women, but in women it is the single biggest factor in determining whether you can conceive and carry a baby successfully. Fertility gradually declines in the 30s, particularly after the age of 35. Even before menopause, the ability to conceive naturally is unlikely by 45.
A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have; at birth that is approximately 1 million eggs but, during your reproductive lifetime, only 300 to 400 will be ovulated and as you age, your eggs age and the number and quality reduces over time.
The decreased quality increases the chance of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and chromosomal abnormalities and raises the pregnancy risks. As you get older, you may also have other medical conditions that could affect your fertility.
Fertility treatment in my 40s: what are my options?
IVF treatment with PGT-A: For women in their late 30s and 40s that wish to undergo fertility treatment with their own eggs, we recommend screening all suitable embryos which have reached the blastocyst stage of development (day 5 embryo) using pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (chromosomal errors).
State-of-the-art embryo selection technology: Time-lapse imaging continuously monitors the development of the embryo and uses artificial intelligence, based on their developmental pattern, to identify the embryos which have the highest chance of implantation in the uterus.
Egg donation: Increasingly, egg donation is becoming a more effective way of overcoming age-related infertility. An egg donor may be anonymous or known to you and egg donation treatment is very similar to a standard approach to IVF, expect you will not be required to undergo the ovarian stimulation phase of the treatment.
If you are over 40 and would like to understand more about your own fertility, the first step would be to arrange a consultation to meet with one of our Aria consultants.