The right age for a woman to get pregnant is when she is physically, emotionally, financially, and socially ready for the responsibilities of motherhood. The ideal age varies from one woman to another, but most surveys have found that it is best to get pregnant between 20 and 35 years (1). Although fertility decreases with age, it is possible to have healthy babies in later ages. Read this MomJunction post to know about how age and pregnancy are associated, and what it means to have a baby at a certain age.
Before Your 20s
- This might not be the ideal age for most women but is still the most fertile age.
- Women usually have a lower weight at this age, thus making pregnancy weight easy to manage.
- There is an increased risk of hypertensive pregnancy disorders, abortion, urinary infections, and premature rupture of the fetal membranes (2).
- Women may not be emotionally prepared to handle pregnancy issues.
- Parents might face financial problems while raising the child.
[ Read: Getting Pregnant In Your 30s ]
In Your 20s
- Women are fertile, and it is easier for them to get pregnant now than later.
- The chances of having a healthy baby and low-risk pregnancy are the highest in the 20s, a period of peak fertility for most women (3).
- They have enough energy to pass through the phase of pregnancy and are less likely to get chronic conditions.
- Regaining the pre-pregnancy weight is easy.
- Finances could still be a burden since most young couples might be repaying their educational loans and settling in their careers.
In Your 30s
- Once you hit the 30s, your fertility might start slowing down due to the decreasing quantity and quality of ovum (3). The risk of aneuploidy is also higher.
- Fertility starts to decline considerably after 35.
- The risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and difficult labors increases (4).
- You may require fertility assistance treatments in the late 30s.
- The success rate of fertility assistance treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and stimulators for ovulation might come down too (5).
- The risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities is high after age 35 (6).
- The chances of twin conception are high since hormonal variations in older women lead to the release of multiple eggs (7).
- But this is the time when the relationships are stable, and couples are committed to parenthood.
In Your 40s
- The chance of getting pregnant naturally declines in the 40s.
- There is a greater risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, diabetes, preeclampsia, placental problems, preterm labor, and low birth weight.
- The chances of having a cesarean section are higher.
- Pregnancy needs to be carefully managed and might need additional tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling (CVS) to screen for abnormalities like Down syndrome in the baby (8).
- With proper care, you can still have a healthy pregnancy and baby in your 40s.
[ Read: Pregnancy At 45 Or After ]
Note that these scenarios are generic. They may or may not hold good to you. But two common things to note are:
- You are more fertile at a younger age than older.
- You can get pregnant even at 40, provided you have a healthy lifestyle, take care of your health, and address any health issues promptly (8).
Benefits Of Being A Young Parent
- The cultural gap between you and your child is less.
- You will have enough time to have more children.
- You are physically more active to keep up with your child.
- The children will get settled sooner, leaving you leisure time later in life.
- There would be a quick pregnancy bounce-back.
- There is a higher probability for you to see a couple of generations down the line.
- It is easier to take time off work.
Benefits Of Having A Child Later In Life
- Your life experiences make you wiser (9).
- You will have a better income to support the child.
- Children are found to be healthier with fewer health issues due to a better quality of life.
- You will have more time to spend with your child.
- You will be emotionally stable.
You need to consider factors such as fertility, emotional maturity, career stability, family orientation, financial health, etc., before deciding on when to have children.
What To Do If You Want To Get Pregnant Now?
Follow the below steps if you are planning for a pregnancy, irrespective of your age (10).
- Schedule a preconception check-up to review your personal, family and medical history
- Find out if you need to go through genetic carrier screening
- Start taking folic acid supplements after consulting your doctor
- Quit tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs
- Opt for nutritious food and have a balanced diet
- Keep a check on your caffeine intake
- Aim to reach a healthy weight
- Follow an exercise routine
- Make a note of your financial matters
- Stay away from environmental dangers
- Figure out your ovulation time and have intercourse during the most fertile period during your cycle
It is recommended to consult a fertility expert if you are facing the following issues while trying to get pregnant:
- Missed or irregular menstrual period
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- If you are below 35 with regular cycle; not being pregnant after trying for one year
- If you are 35 to 39 with regular cycle; not being pregnant after trying for six months
- If you are 40 or above with regular cycle; not being pregnant after trying for three months
What To Do If You Want To Postpone Pregnancy?
If you would like to have children sometime later, but not now, you should have protected sex, especially during the fertile days (ovulation). If you are young and want to postpone your pregnancy, you also have the option to freeze your eggs and use them later for conception. This may help you to have a good quality egg, but the pregnancy risks remain depending on the age at which you wish to get pregnant.
Does Age Affect Male Fertility?
Yes, a man’s fertility decreases with age (11). The semen volume, sperm count, and motility are affected usually after the age of 40 (12). A man can father a child even when he is beyond 40, but it may be difficult to become a parent in the 40s than it is at a younger age. The risk of miscarriage and genetic abnormalities in the child is high if the father’s age is above 45, irrespective of the mother’s age (13).
When to have or not have children is a personal decision that depends on your priorities, circumstances, and outlook. Therefore, the right time to get pregnant is when you and your partner think you are ready for it. However, it is good to know about the chances of conception, risks, and other complications involved at different times, so you can be prepared to deal with them.
[ Read: Tips To Improve Chances Of Pregnancy ]
What is your take on the best age for getting pregnant? Let us know about it in the comments section below.
2. Walter Fernandes de Azevedo et al.; Complications in adolescent pregnancy: systematic review of the literature; Einstein (Sao Paulo)
3. Having a Baby After Age 35: How Aging Affects Fertility and Pregnancy; ACOG
4. Pregnancy Over Age 30; University of Rochester Medical Center (2018)
5. Age and Fertility; The American Society for Reproductive Medicine
6. Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen et al.; Maternal age and fetal loss: population based register linkage study
7. Amelia S. McLennan, et al.; The Role of Maternal Age in Twin Pregnancy Outcomes
8. A. Dietl et al.; Pregnancy and Obstetrical Outcomes in Women Over 40 Years of Age; Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd (2015)
9. M. Myrskylä et al.; Advantages of later motherhood; Gynakologe (2017)
10. Planning for Pregnancy; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; (2018)
11. Crosnoe LE & Kim ED; Impact of age on male fertility; Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol (2013)
12. Sharon A. Kidd et al.; Effects of male age on semen quality and fertility: a review of the literature; American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2001)
13. Simon L Conti & and Michael L Eisenberg; Paternal aging and increased risk of congenital disease, psychiatric disorders, and cancer; Asian J Androl (2016)
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