About the ideal age to have children, a woman’s fertility problems as she gets older, but also the risks of pregnancy after 40 years.
I spoke with Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, with a super-specialization in infertility.
A woman up to the age of 30 must already have the first child born, because otherwise, apart from the existing problems of infertility, the situation worsens with advancing age. Unfortunately, women take care of careers at the expense of children, Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas told us.
The age of mothers at the birth of their first child is increasing rapidly, and this has the consequence of escalating fertility problems that are directly correlated with age. From 23 years in 1997 to 27 years, in 2017. In the urban environment, the age at which women have their first child is even higher, 28.7 years, and in Bucharest – even 30.3 years, according to the first analysis study of infertility problems in Romania initiated by the Association for Human Reproduction in Romania (ARUR).
From a biological point of view, the most suitable period for conception is between 20-30 years. Aging also brings with it the aging of the ovaries. Every woman is born with a number of eggs that she gradually loses throughout her life. Thus, at the age of puberty, she still has approximately 300,000 eggs. At each menstruation, for one egg released during ovulation, approximately 500 other eggs are “consumed”, which do not mature and are absorbed by the body.
The ovarian reserve naturally decreases, until around the age of 50, when the woman enters menopause, only a few thousand aging eggs remain, making fertilization almost impossible. For a woman, getting older can come with some gynecological problems, the most common being endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic infections, or damage to the fallopian tubes, conditions that worsen and can become causes of female infertility.
Other factors that can lead to a decrease in a woman’s fertility are the lower frequency of sexual relations, the decrease in libido, the aging of the endometrium, but also obesity, another important cause of infertility. On the other hand, Dr. Vythoulkas continued, advancing years for men doesn’t affect them as much in terms of fertility.
Aging does not affect the production of seminal fluid, but rather its quality and quantity. At 40, regardless of how the pregnancy was achieved – naturally or through IVF -, a future mother is subject to certain risks: baby at risk of Down syndrome, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, placenta previa, placenta abruption, premature birth.
Dr. Andreas Vythoulkas, obstetrician-gynecology specialist, www.vythoulkas.ro