Women over 30 would have trouble getting pregnant? Bullshit!

We've always been told:
- 25 is the age to get married.
- 30 is the age to have children because after that you'll start to have fertility problems.
- If you are over 30, unmarried and have no children, you'd better hurry because the doctors advise you to hurry up if you ever want to have kids and 35 is the age (indirectly defined by the Singapore government) for people who are left on the shelf.

It's depressing to think about my biological clock ticking and that time is running out. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the onset of fertility problems for women is age 30 - is bullshit! [Read article]

The origin of that statistic is 1700s France. They put together church birth records and then came up with these statistics about how likely it was for a woman to get pregnant after certain ages. In those days, women had children when they were about 20 years old anyway. And women over 30 may not have been trying to conceive at all. If you take into account the average life expectancy then and now, that would be like having a newborn baby when you are 50!

Let's look at the results from recent studies instead:

Fertility rate
In a study by David Dunson published in 2004, of about 780 women who were trying to conceive,
- 86% of women aged 27-34 were pregnant within a year.
- 82% of women aged between 35 and 39 fell pregnant within a year.

As for chromosomal abnormality (such as Down's syndrome), the chance at the age of
20: one in 500,
30: one in 400,
40: one in 60-70.

IVF success rate
The success rates in IVF and artificial insemination is much higher for a woman in her early 30s compared to another in her late 30s. But many fertility problems that women over 30 experience have nothing to do with age and often it's got to do with the man's sperm. Had they tried to conceive in their 20s, they would have also faced difficulties.

In summary, the earlier the better but later is still highly possible. Anyway, these these are only statistics. And I think if a good donor can't be found, then it's better never than ever.


David said...

Yu-Kym, an interesting look at pregnancy and age.

You and fellow SG citizens are very aware that native Singaporeans are reproducing at less than replacement rate. IOW, in 20 and 40 years from now. The majority of new SG citizens will have been born to immigrant parents.

The same is true in many of SG's neighbours. Japan, Korea,(South), and China, like SG have a population that is increasing in average age, as there are more older citizens than young new ones.

You mentioned your own biological clock is ticking. Are you considering finding a suitable donor and use IVF or artificial insemination to concieve a child?


Savahn said...

"But many fertility problems that women over 30 experience have nothing to do with age and often it's got to do with the man's sperm."

I have to correct you here. You can look up Mayo Clinic and the like. In regards to fertility:
1/3 of the time, it is potentially the problem of the male
1/3 of the time, it is potentially a problem with the female
1/3 of the time, it is an indeterminable problem

Also, we should consider genetic compatibility, environment, general health, etc.

It is completely possible to have babies later in life but fertility does drop off at a point. If you have every intention to have children, get your eggs harvested and frozen when you are younger. There are only so many eggs in a woman's ovaries. As we age, the viability of the eggs will reduce and this can be quite rapid at the "drop off point" - whenever you want to place that.

Yu-Kym said...

David, I don't really care whether the new citizens are born to immigrant parents or not because Singapore is a migrant country. It achieved what it has today because of the hard work of the migrants and their children. No, I won't be using IVF. The donor would have to be someone I'm in a long-term relationship with.

Savahn, I used the word "often" so that meant it happens frequently but not all the time. As for eggs, they will degrade (that's why there's a higher chance of chromosomal abnormalities) and I would guess the rapid drop off point would be around age 35-40. But, well, it would still depend on the individual - there are other factors as you mentioned.