We sit down with women’s health expert Dr Michelle Chia of Dr Tan & Partners to get the down-low on conceiving a child after the age of 35.
Q: Is it really harder to conceive after 35?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. A woman’s fertility declines as her age increases. This is due to the reduction in egg reserves as time passes by. The quality of eggs also decreases, as a woman gets older.
The peak of a woman’s fertility would be in her twenties, with a slight decline once she hits 30 years old. The decline is more significant once a woman hits the age of 35 years old and above.
Women above the age of 40 will have an even harder time conceiving.
Q: How can someone help increase fertility at a later age?
While we cannot delay the process of ageing, the fertility of a woman can be affected by many lifestyle factors as well.
Modifying these lifestyle factors can help to optimize a woman’s health and also her fertility even at a later age, to hopefully increase the chances of conceiving.
Some tips include:
- Stop smoking
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Eat a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals
- Reduce the consumption of fried and processed food
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce the amount of stress in your life
Q: What if you’re having trouble conceiving at/around 35? What are the options for women looking to conceive and carry?
One important advice for women trying to conceive is to seek help early!
Time is of the essence especially for women around 35 or older who are having difficulty conceiving.
Women 35 years old and above are recommended to go for a fertility check with their partners after actively trying unsuccessfully for 6 months.
If a woman has been diagnosed with fertility issues, then some of the options would include undergoing the appropriate fertility treatment to help them conceive.
Some of these fertility treatments available include Intrauterine insemination (IUI) or In vitro fertilization (IVF).
Age also plays an important factor for such fertility treatments as the success rates of these treatments reduce as a woman’s age increases.
Q: Is getting pregnant after 35 considered high-risk? What are the risks associated with a later age pregnancy?
Women aged 35 or older who get pregnant are referred to as “advanced maternal age”. These pregnancies are generally higher risk compared to younger women who are pregnant.
An advanced maternal age pregnancy can be associated with several increased risks:
- An increased risk of chromosomal abnormality especially Down’s Syndrome
- A higher risk of miscarriage
- Gestational diabetes
- Pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure problems during pregnancy which may potentially lead to several other complications
- Higher risk of stillbirth
- Higher risk of preterm birth
- Higher chance of requiring a caesarean section
What are some other things to keep in mind when trying to conceive?
Remember that time is of the essence if you are planning to start a family!
The main advice would be to do a pre-conception screen or a fertility screen early on so that any abnormalities can be treated in a timely manner without unnecessary delay.
A healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise will also go a long way in optimizing a woman’s fertility chances at a later age and slowing down the decline of the quality of eggs.