Infographic: How Age Affects Fertility

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When a woman decides that she is ready to have a baby, there are several areas of health she should be aware of to understand her potential fertility rate and the chances of naturally conceiving a baby including:

  • Current state of health
  • Prescribed medications she has taken or currently takes
  • Drinking and smoking
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Age

Some factors can be controlled depending on a woman’s situation such as what medications she is taking and how often she drinks or smokes. However, some criteria such as a woman’s age cannot be controlled and is an important factor to take into consideration when trying to conceive a baby.

When a female is born, she already carries over one million eggs in her ovaries, but as she ages, the number of eggs significantly decreases; especially during her early adolescent years. By the time a women experiences her first menstruation, the number of eggs have already decreased by 90%.  At this point, there only about 150,000 eggs left and the number continuously decreases until menopause usually around ages 41 to 60.

Beginning in her early 20s until menopause, while the chances of becoming pregnant decreases, the rate of a miscarriage and chances of conceiving a child with Down syndrome increases because of genetically abnormal eggs. A woman should seek services that offer donor eggs or screenings in case her eggs are genetically abnormal.

During her 20s, a woman will still have about 30% of genetically normal eggs with a 20-25% chance of conceiving a baby and a very low rate of a miscarriage occurring and conceiving a child with Down syndrome. Already by her mid-30s, the percent of normal eggs decreases by half to 16% and by the time she is in her 40s, the rate is as low as 2-4%. For this reason, older women should seek out fertility help to conceive a child. A woman who is healthy and in her mid-20s should seek fertility help after about 12 months, but a woman over 40 years of age should not wait any longer then after 3 months of trying to conceive.


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