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Fertility And Your Age

Fertility And Your Age

While some women choose to have children in their 20's, a lot of women are putting off childrearing until they are well into their 30's or 40's. A woman may want to pursue education and a career, or a couple might choose to wait so that they can be more financially stable. The good news is that today's medical technology, advances in fertility drugs and procedures, and good prenatal care mean that women at almost any age can deliver a healthy child.

When you're in your 20's, your body is at its most fit, and you are probably quite active. Your fertility actually peaks by age 24, and begins to decline once you hit 30. In your 20's, your eggs are young, and your risks of the baby developing many of the genetic disorders which can occur past the age of 35 are at their lowest.

At 35, your risk for genetic disorders increases, and continues to climb rapidly. Your risk of getting gestational diabetes and having a low birth weight baby is also higher. The risk for Down's Syndrome goes up, and your doctor will advise you to undergo prenatal testing if you are 35 or older. An amniocentesis is usually recommended, where a thin needle is inserted into the amniotic fluid to take a small sample. Your doctor might refer you to a genetic counselor, who will take your medical and family history to determine if there are certain disorders or diseases your baby might be at an added risk for.

In your 40's, you have a 50% chance of suffering a miscarriage. You probably won't even know it most of these age-related miscarriages occur early in the pregnancy and are often mistaken for a late period. Your ovulation can be more irregular, meaning that conceiving a baby can be difficult as a period may not come each month. This is why it's common for women over the age of 40 to use fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization to conceive.

If you're in your 30's or 40's, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Begin taking prenatal vitamins, including folic acid, which will drastically reduce the risk of your baby being born with spina bifida or anencephaly. By eating well, getting regular exercise and banishing bad habits like excessive alcohol use and smoking, you can increase your odds of having a healthy pregnancy at any age.


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