Pregnancy at 20, 30, and 40
Making the decision of when to get pregnant can sometimes be a difficult one. However, whether or not you decide to start a family in your 20s, 30s or 40s, knowing the benefits and disadvantages of trying to conceive when you want can provide answers to questions you might have once you do decide.
In Your 20s…
If you are thinking about starting a family in your 20s, time and good reproductive health are usually on your side. Women in their 20s tend to have a 20-25 percent chance each month to successfully conceive. They typically have healthy ovaries, which are producing consistent, normal eggs. Anovulation (the absence of ovulating) and miscarriages are low. According to a study from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a woman in her 20s has a one out of 1,667 chance of having a child with Down syndrome, and the risk for miscarriage is only 10 percent. These women are not as likely to have reproductive health issues, such as endometriosis (a condition affecting the uttering lining), or pregnancy-related problems like preeclampsia (high blood pressure). The number of cesarean sections performed during their labor is also lower. Some disadvantages of conceiving in your twenties could be due to lack of time because of pursuing educational and career goals. Many women may not only be busy with their education or the start of their careers, but they might not be financially stable, have student debt to worry about, or have not yet found a partner with whom they would start to have children.
In Your 30s…
When a woman reaches her 30s, she might be more professionally and financially established and therefore, may feel more prepared to start a family. According to the Reproductive Health Division of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children. In fact, about 20 percent of women in the United States have their first child after age 35. Unfortunately, fertility in women starts to decline in their 30s. For example, a woman’s ovaries might not consistently release as many healthy eggs as they did in her 20s, which could lead to more miscarriages. Miscarriage statistics rise to 12-18 percent in your 30s. Due to aging eggs, the risks for birth defects also increase. For example, a 35-year-old woman has a one out of 378 chance of having a child with Down syndrome, which is four times as likely as she did in her 20s. A woman in her early and mid thirties has about a 15-20 percent chance of getting pregnant each cycle.
In Your 40s…
Today, the number of women having babies in their 40s is escalating. In a study provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the number of women giving birth in their 40s jumped by more than 50 percent between 1976 and 1996. However, as a woman enters her 40s, the chances of getting pregnant each cycle could fall to five percent. Some women even turn to fertility clinics to help them conceive. However, even with fertility medications and healthy living, the chances of miscarrying could be anywhere from 34-53 percent. As in their 30s, these women’s eggs continue to age and the chances of birth defects also increase. A 45-year-old woman has a one out of 53 chance of having a child with Down syndrome. A woman over 45, who is taking fertility drugs, could be 10 times more likely to become pregnant with multiple babies, putting her and the babies at risk during pregnancy. They are more likely to have to deal with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and are more likely to have a child who is born prematurely than a woman in her 20s and 30s.
Overall, many women in their 40s still continue to get pregnant and deliver healthy babies every day. Nevertheless, the statistics prove that as women age, so does their reproductive health, and the chances of getting pregnant become slimmer. If you are worried, talk to your Ob-Gyn about your fertility and what you can do now to stay as healthy as possible before you make the decision to get pregnant.