January 31, 2010
Most Eggs Gone For Women By Age 30
By age 30 only 12% of a woman's eggs still remain.
A successful collaboration between the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh has resulted in a better understanding of how many eggs a woman has in her ovaries (ovarian reserve) from conception to menopause. It is the first time that scientists have ever modelled human ovarian reserve from establishment before birth to menopause around 50 years of age.
By age 40 only 3% remain. The odds of a successful pregnancy at that point therefore are small to none.
Tom Kelsey, a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews, said, "Previous models have looked at the decline in ovarian reserve, but not at the dynamics of ovarian reserve from conception onwards. Our model shows that for 95% of women, by the age of 30 years, only 12% of their maximum ovarian reserve is present, and by the age of 40 years only 3% remains.
They find no evidence for stem cells that can make more eggs.
"Furthermore our model provides no evidence for the presence of stem germ cells in the ovary that could increase the number of eggs present in the ovary and delay the menopause."
Hollywood starlets having twins in their 40s are almost all using donor eggs.
Going forward the generation of new eggs from stem cells will certainly become possible some day. But when? My guess is it will even become preferable since future techniques for modifying genes in the stem cells will allow people to eliminate genetic defects and also combine the most designed genetic features from all their chromosomes (and beyond) into a single haploid egg. The same will be done with male sperm. Then the rate of human evolution will accelerate orders of magnitude over the current already fast rate of human evolution.
Do you think this has bearing on the standard recommendation that women do their best to schedule reproduction to be completed by around age 35?
"By age 40 only 3% remain. The odds of a successful pregnancy at that point therefore are small to none."
Sorry, but this is nonsense. Nutty. Women in their 40's have been and are having healthy babies with their own eggs. 3% of 400,000 (starting number) would be, um, 12,000 viable eggs. About 480 eggs released during a woman's reproductive life.
It takes more than just viable eggs to get pregnant. It also takes healthy cervical mucus production. A woman's cervical mucus production declines with age as well. The presence of eggs notwithstanding, a woman's fertility peaks at 22-- the age at which her cervical mucus is capable of not killing sperm and also ferrying it to the egg itself. After 22, when a woman has two to three days of egg-white cervical mucus production, cervical mucus declines to the point where it is produced for a mere matter of hours at age 40.
The reality of female fertility is humbling.
Waiting till one's early 30s to start having babies is a mistake. Higher rates of infertility, higher miscarriage rates, and higher birth defect rates all argue against it.
By age 40 about a third of women are totally infertile. Those remaining eggs are probably less health on average than the eggs that matured earlier. Look at rising Downs Syndrome rates by age.
at what age is the peak? ;)
Wow this is beyond stupid and frankly it's dangerous info.
Next to teenage girls guess what group gets the highest number of abortions ?
Women aged 40-44
also you missed this
Another aspect highlighted in the study was that the ovarian reserves varied in different women. While some may have 35,000 eggs, there may be others with more than 2 million. Also the speed at which the ovarian reserve declines is different for everyone.
I can imagine telomeres are at work here.
Thanks, ladies, you've been fine clerks. I just don't know what we'll do for clerks when you're gone.
This is one reason why having more people spend more years in college is bad. Nature wants people to become parents before 30 but credentials inflation means many women wait till later to try become mothers.
It seems most strategically beneficial for women in their late 20s to marry an older husband who has had more time to build financial resources.
Raising kids isn't difficult if you utilize domestic staff. It seems like a waste to have highly educated parents engaged in sentimental labor like changing diapers or even teaching kids how to read.
Also, Kralizec, thanks for bringing your incredible wit to the discussion.
Mthson said "Raising kids isn't difficult if you utilize domestic staff. It seems like a waste to have highly educated parents engaged in sentimental labor like changing diapers or even teaching kids how to read."
Although the original post is extremely interesting, with implications that some here seem to be exploring, this statement veers the conversation in an entirely different direction. The phrase "raising kids" is a catch-all with poor definition, but the "waste" of "highly educated" parents engaged in "sentimental labor" are all phrases designed to denigrate the relational aspects of the care of children. The phrase "highly educated" somehow also implies a degree of relative wealth given the recommendation to utilize domestic staff.
"women in their late 20s to marry an older husband who has had more time to build financial resources."
Women are doing much better then men in college so they will be the gender with more financial resources. Expect more stay-at-home dads in the future.
So glad to see other women pointing out the nonsense here. I was 34 when I got pregnant with my first child. Had ZERO problems conceiving. Was 37 when I conceived the 2nd child - again - ZERO problems conceiving and had my 3rd at 43 years of age. Do I need to say it? ZERO problems conceiving.
Do you understand the concepts of normal distribution, statistical significance and anecdote?
You conceived at 43 with no problems. Great! Suggesting to a younger woman that because you had no problems she should wait until later to have kids is irresponsible, because the statistics show she will be much less likely to conceive--outliers such as yourself notwithstanding.
Correction: irresponsible and cruel
Feminism has been the greatest crime against humanity, including against women themselves, of the modern era.
Fertility does drop a lot by 30, and even more after 35. This is masked by the modern goal of having just 1 or 2 kids.
A mitigating force, however, is the IVF + surrogacy industry in India, where you can have a kid for $20,000 that is biologically yours. Couples with money can even have 2 in parallel. So 'catchup', i.e. having 3 kids in the space of 18 months, via cheap surrogacy, is possible.
I agree that extension of lifespans until 110, combined with gene therapy, might greatly reduce the need to reproduce.
- Yes, my perspective was more of a hyper-economic framework. Thanks for the feedback; I find it interesting... I generally keep my neurogenetic temperament under wraps when I'm not anonymous, which I think is wise.
- That perspective on feminism doesn't quite seem balanced. Nobody wants a society with medieval gender attitudes and the human potential of half the population squandered.
- Surrogate pregnancies: Yep. I plan to have quite a few in my future. For the good of society, of course.
Women are doing well in college because education has been dumbed down from K-12 through university. Boys become bored with the mass production aspects of education to say nothing of the neo-indoctrination. Girls can sit through anything, so they make it through the rote, boring, trivia to the diploma, like good little girls.
But besides being politically correct little bureaucrats and prison matrons for the shrinking generations coming through, what can they do? The mass of invention and innovation is done by men. Women tend to cross the t's and dot the i's.
They'd best have their babies young so their kind don't die off, as they seem to be doing.
Again, bad science reporting for shock value.
Suspect methodology and small research sampling.
"In 2005, there were more than 104,000 births in the United States to women ages 40 through 44, and over 6,500 to women 45 and older. In 2004, there were 1,786 live births to women over 42, using donor eggs."
Checking the 2007 birth stats today at the CDC and I found:
All races and origins
40–44 years................. 105,071 live births
45–54 years................ 7,349 live births
Next I went to SART, who has the 2007 IVF and Donor Egg rates in the US:
Fresh Embryos From Non-Donor OocytesNumber of cycles : (40-42) 8,865 (43-44) 5,749Percentage of cycles resulting in live births : (40-42) 11.7 (43-44) 4.6Total live births : (40-42) 1,037.2 (43-44) 264.5
TOTAL (40-44) : 1,301.7
Thawed Embryos From Non-Donor Oocytes
Number of transfers : (40-42) 1,043 (43-44) 652Percentage of transfers resulting in live births : (40-42) 20.7 (43-44) 14.6Total live births : (40-42) 215.9 ( 43-44) 95.2
TOTAL (40-44) : 311
Total number of women conceiving from IVF (non-DE) (40-44) : 1,613
Donor Oocytes (all ages) Number of transfers : (Fresh Embryos) 9,575 (Thawed Embryos) 5,087 Percentage of transfers resulting in live births : (Fresh) 55.2 (Thawed) 31.7Total Live Births : (Fresh) 5,285.4 (Thawed) 1612.6
TOTAL births by Donor Egg (all ages) : 6,898
Number of live-birth deliveries resulting from ART cycles started in 2006: 41,343
How old were the women who used ART in the United States in 2006?
Figure 3: The average age of women using ART services in 2006 was 36. The largest group of women using ART services were women younger than 35, representing 39% of all ART cycles carried out in 2006. Twenty-three percent of ART cycles were carried out among women aged 35–37, 19% among women aged 38–40, 10% among women aged 41–42, and 10% among women older than 42.
Number of live-birth deliveries to women using ART older than 42 in 2007: 4,134
How did the types of ART cycles used in the United States in 2006 differ among women of different ages?
Figure 4 shows that, in 2006, the type of ART cycles varied by the woman’s age. The vast majority (96%) of women younger than 35 used their own eggs, whereas only 4% used donor eggs. In contrast, 21% of women aged 41 to 42 and more than half (55%) of women older than 42 used donor eggs. Across all age groups, more ART cycles using fresh eggs or embryos were performed than cycles using frozen embryos.
Number of live-birth deliveries to women using Donor Egg older than 42 in 2004: 2,274
So the updated quote becomes:"In 2007, there were more than 105,000 births in the United States to women ages 40 through 44, and over 7,349 to women 45 to 54. In 2007, there were 2,274 live births to women over 42, using donor eggs."
Jenn: You forgot to include all the women above age 40 - 44 who were trying to get pregnant, but who were unable because they had no viable eggs.
With about 12 million women in that age group, I suspect that those 100,000 and change women who were successful may have been a very small minority of all women who tried.
So fewer than 1% of women age 40 - 44 were successful in delivering a live birth? Not a very good percentage. I think Randall's article stands.
Women who delay childbirth expecting to be able to have children run a huge risk.
Bob Badour.....who the hell "suggested" anything? I gave my experience. I think the article is full of misleading information.
And yeah....been to business school, dude. I totally understand statistics.
Misleading in what way?
Are you suggesting the article misleads women into thinking they will have a better outcome if they conceive in their 20's?
Okay. Let me rephrase what I said. It's not misleading. I question its accuracy. How's that?
Plus, you seem awfully defensive for someone who is convinced he has a good grasp of the facts. You put words in my mouth and you seem angry because women are questioning you. I find *that* much more interesting than your ridiculous study.
And just for the record.....my "outlier" grandmothers BOTH had children WELL into their forties. My paternal grandmother gave birth to her last child at 49. She had 10. My maternal grandmother had 7. Her last was at 47. So, we're talking in the 1940's these women (and many others) were having children in their 40's. I have more friends than fingers and toes who all gave birth naturally in their 40's as well.
Guess they all missed your memo.
So, you are an outlier who gets it honestly by genetics.
I have known more women than I have fingers and toes who were not so endowed. Some eventually turned to adoption. Some have spent a lot of money on fertility clinics. Some simply gave up.
Some had all the kids they wanted when they were young and were happy to become infertile. One of my grandmothers had six kids--one a year starting at the age of 16. I strongly doubt my grandfather lost interest in sex by the age of 25, but my grandmother didn't have any more pregnancies after the age of 22.
But none of that is any more or less meaningful than your anecdotes. Anecdotes do not make statistical significance.
If you want to question the accuracy of the study, do so by examining the study and pointing out flaws in it. Saying: "Well, I got knocked up at 43" is meaningless. You are among the 5% already identified in the study who had more ova remaining at those ages. Big deal. It does nothing whatsoever to refute the study. It certainly doesn't even begin to suggest the study is "nonsense". If you have any understanding of statistical significance, demonstrate it.
I don't have any emotional investment in the study or the results. If you perceive any emotion, it's coming from inside your own head.
Shame on Magnolia for so flaunting her fertility in front of her less fortunate sisters. She is a one in a hundred female fortunately fertile after forty (FFFAF). Rather than laughing at other women not so lucky, she should be grateful for her special talent.
Other women who take her diabolical advice will only suffer for it.
I have no more interest in coming back to this page after this last comment. Call me what you want. Outlier. Out-LIAR even. Genetically blessed. So what.
I've not once given 'advice' to ANYONE nor "suggested" anything. As I said in the beginning.......I gave my experience. Excuse me...."anecdote".
I will refrain from trampling on your "data" as frankly, I am sure that nothing I would have to say about it would matter. You are convinced your numbers speak reality. I am telling you, as a woman who has given birth, they do not speak reality.
They speak to your SAMPLE. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you wish to draw sweeping conclusions based on your sample. Have at it. More than one statistician has been wrong. Yawn.
Faludi.......diabolical??? Good grief.
Given the original study found 5% of women have more ova at those ages, your experience is entirely consistent with the study. I still fail to see how that makes it "nonsense".
If you have data, I am all ears. Since I had no involvement with the original study, I have no ownership of any data.
Magnolia, your experience at being able to conceive children into your forties is atypical. Though I am not a specialist in fertility, I am a current healthcare professional and experienced medical researcher, so have some knowledge base in this area. Bear in mind that a great many variables affect the ability to conceieve, carry to term, and deliver a healthy baby. Some have already been mentioned in the discussion above, i.e. cervical mucosa, sperm viability, pH, the "starting number" of ova and their relative rate of deterioration and inviability, and much more. All political and cultural commentary aside, it is beyond debate (at least in the medical-scientific community) that, for almost all women, the optimal reproductive years are in the late teens and early twenties. Some women, such as yourself, remain viable much later, but that is not the common pattern. Moreover, late pregnancy is fraught with risk for both the mother and fetus; morbidity and mortality rates for both climb radically after the prospective mother hits age 35. Does any of this This any argue that women should not try to sire children after age 30-35? No, of course not - but IMO it means a woman and her spouse/partner should harbor no illusions about the road ahead if conceiving late. And get genetic screening done before making your decision; it may disclose important data on your chances of having a child with Down's Syndrome, autism or other birth defect.
Throughout human history, women characteristically have borne their children reasonably early in life, for very sound reasons. Until the advent of modern OBGYN techniques/techologies in the early 1900s, childbirth was a significant source of mortality for women and their unborn babies. The current model of extending adolescence and education into (sometimes past) the late 20s, is foolish in the extreme for any civilization which wishes to perpetuate itself.
Falling birthrates in much of the developed world bear out this statement. To coin a phrase (source, Mark Steyn), "The future belongs to those who show up." Older couples tend to have fewer children, if they elect to have children at all.
I concur with most of what you wrote. I had my first healthy baby at age 33, my second healthy baby at age 36. I've known women in their 20s who miscarried many times or had imperfect uterine wall connections, necessitating early C-sections and/or complete bed rest. I have a number of friends who have had healthy children well past their mid-30s and others who were never able to conceive, although they tried for years.
This study seems terribly flawed. Using computer models??? What, there weren't any women to use for this breakthrough study? Overall health, ancestry, family medical history, diet, stress levels, and environment are also important factors in conception and full-term delivery, not just age. If they were used in the computer model, then why aren't they mentioned in the article?
The input for models can be fudged/manipulated when the initial outcome isn't what the scientist wanted. We've seen that happen time and again. Makes me question any "new and provocative" scientific discovery as of late, since "new" usually means "yay, I'm at the front of the line for grants and government handouts." Color me skeptical.
Would love to see the model results of viable "old sperm"... LOL.
I wonder if the fertility of older women would be effected by past use of hormone based birth control. It would be interesting to see if women who used hormones from and early age to postpone pregnancy had different results in their later years.
The study looked at number of viable ovarian follicles. It did this by using data collected in other studies. Counting viable ovarian follicles sounds very invasive to me. I suspect the studies were examining corpses or ovaries that had been removed for some reason.
The computer model in question was not a model of viable pregnancy. It was an exercise in curve fitting related to the number of viable ovarian follicles.
I am sure there are any number of ways to criticize the study, but observing a pregnancy or two in the late 30's or even late 40's is not one of them. Neither is demonstrating you have not done so much as skim the abstract.
Question: Will the new birth control pill that cuts down on periods preserve eggs?
Not entirely. The study mentions apoptosis (programmed cell death) and other reasons for the decline in follicles.
"Tom Kelsey, a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews, said, "Previous models have looked at the decline in ovarian reserve, but not at the dynamics of ovarian reserve from conception onwards. Our model shows that for 95% of women, by the age of 30 years, only 12% of their maximum ovarian reserve is present, and by the age of 40 years only 3% remains."
This article quotes a computer scientist and an oncologist,(which is a medical doctor who specializes in cancers), about womens' fertility.
This is all very well, but when I want to know what may be wrong with my automobile transmission, I'm not at all interested in a carpenter's or a dentist's opinions on the specifics of the matter, am I?
I'm sure there may be some more qualified specialists who took part in this study, and I think it might profit us all more to hear from them...rather than some computer wonk talking about his "model"
Haven't we just seen a good part of the world hoodwinked over some other "computer models"?
To quote Sergeant Joe Friday:
"Just the facts, ma'am."
I don't see how the percentages of eggs remaining matters if the woman is still releasing one every month.
Women are doing much better then men in college so they will be the gender with more financial resources. Expect more stay-at-home dads in the future.
Yeah, but now that government's broke, what's the point of your multiple useless degrees if you can't apply it to a make-work job, such as regulating smoking outside?
I'm astonished at how many people (including a supposed business school graduate) don't understand that anecdotal evidence means nothing about a broader trend. What an interesting world they must live in.
"Unemployment hits 10%? I've still got my job, so that didn't happen."
"Record snowfall this year? It's bright and sunny here in Miami, so that must be false."
"65% of America is overweight? I'm still looking skinny, that study is obviously based on lies."
I'm willing to bet that genetics plays a part for some women being fertile at older ages than others. Likewise, I would bet that having babies is easier for someone who has had babies: to wit a grandmother having her 10th at age 49. Had that grandmother waited until she was 45 she might not have been so fortunate. Further, I would also bet that birth control methods early on can interfere with fertility later on. Here are some anecdotes: I knew a high school student who had had so many abortions before the age of 19 that when she did want to carry a baby to full term, her equipment rebelled. I know another woman who started taking the pill when she was 15. When she was 25 she wanted to get pregnant, and invested tens of thousands of dollars from the health insurance for fertility treatments. Then, in her mid-thirties she had significant problems with breast cancer. The body doesn't respond well to being messed with, and oral contraceptives and fertility treatments are serious chemicals. Just anecdotes, but hopefully this study has raised further questions.
And about sentimental tasks: babies bond with their primary care givers. I Never missed an opportunity to change a diaper, feed, rock to sleep or read to my babies. And when they were sick in the middle of the night I'm the one who cleaned them, their clothes and bedding and put them back to bed. What a rewarding experience.
I do lots of genealogy and family history using the excellent records from Massachusetts. I haven't sat down and done a statistical analysis, but my impression is that, at least in the 1600's and in the early 1700's, women continued to have babies into their mid 40's. I think of 45 as a cutoff age. As women age, there is more time between pregnancies, but they keep having babies, only a bit further apart.
Touching on what Milwaukee D. said - I have also heard this. If you have children at a younger age, then it is easier to have one at an older age. In other words, it is easier to conceive and bear your 5th child at 42 than your 1st.
Are there any statistics on this? Or is it just an old wives tale?
I had my last baby when I was 43. A big surprise because I was told the same kind of thing about eggs, fertility etc. I have a friend who had a baby at 42, 44. and 47. Another who had her last baby at 47. All their own eggs as mine was. All 5 children are perfect and healthy. In looking at my grandmothers/great-grandmothers on both sides I count 5 who had babies at 43 or older. I don't want to dispute what is no doubt an accurate study, but it happens and from what I've seen fairly often.
Having sex with a compute model is not near as much fun as it is made out to be. Besides, I'm looking for a willing climate model.
Yes, I walked on the moon, so why can't everybody?"
You morons, the plural of anecdotes is not data. If you don't want people to see you as a cow, start thinking like a reasoning human.
So I am a board certified infertility specialist in the US. This concept of declining or diminishing ovarian reserve is absolutely real. It is a biologic fact, and ignoring that is not especially wise. These scientists here are not breaking new ground per se, but trying to quantify things, something that is pretty difficult. I cannot speak to their methodology or whether the numbers derived from their models are "right", but even if they are "off" it does not change the underlying issue of declining ovarian function with age.
There is ABSOLUTELY an age related decrease in pregancy chances. As women get older, their chances of getting pregnant unequivocally go down. A woman at 35 has twice the chance of having fertility issues as someone who is 25. A woman who is 40 has twice the chance of having infertility as someone 35. This is absolutely an egg quality issue. We know this because women who get pregnant at older ages have increased risk of aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormalities). At 20 - it's ~ 1:2000. At 35 it's ~1:300. At 40, ~1:90. At 45 it's ~1:10. This of course means that MOST will do just fine but the relative increased risk as you can see is dramatic (and another reason not to pay attention to anecdotes...). We also know that women at this age who use donor egg have the same chances of pregnancy and aneuploidy as their donor, and it does not vary by the age of the egg donor recipient.
I also see MANY women (admittedly a skewed sampling - only women having difficulties getting pregnant) in their early 30's who are experiencing this decline in ovarian reserve prematurely. Their ovaries are acting like they are in their 40's. Their pregnancy chances mirror women in their 40's instead of what they should. Some even experience "menopause" in their 20's or 30's (we call it premature ovarian failure). In most cases we don't know why...And it's almost never predictable who is going to have this problem ahead of time.
As has been mentioned here on numerous occasions, the plural of anecdote is NOT data. There are doubtless women in their 40's who conceive without difficulty. And I don't see them, of course. But that doesn't mean that just because many don't have problems that most won't. Kinda like walking across the street blindfolded without getting hit and coming to the conclusion that that is a safe thing to do and something you'd recommend to your friends.
Also be careful how you define that...does that mean they were not practicing contraception and, oops, 4 years later they have a single conception? As an aside, I do find it interesting what people consider as "trying" to get pregnant. I ask how long couples have been trying and they say 6 months. Then I ask how long it's been since they have used any contraception of any kind and they say they 3 years. So they really have been "trying" to get pregnant for 3 years because they weren't trying to prevent pregnancy (my definition) while they think they have been "trying" for 6 months because they are monitoring their ovulation and timing intercourse, etc (their definition).
So as a summary, I never recommend that anyone (who asks me) delay pregnancy, if they plan on getting pregnant. Certainly not beyond age 35, where we start to see dramatic declines in pregnancy (after age 40, pregnancy chances with IVF go down by ~half each year). You never know if you will have waited "too long". Some reach that point earlier than others. I can't tell you the number of women who say that no one told them that if they delayed pregnancy attempts they might have problems.... It's a shame! It's also interesting that about 8 years ago, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM - our professional society) had a public awareness campaign. TV spots, ads in mags, even had someone on Oprah. The doctor on Oprah was boo'ed at by "feminists" who accused her of perpetuating the "keeping women barefoot and pregnant" myth... Unbelievable!!!
We are getting better at freezing eggs. Still experimental and don't recommend it at this point for women who want to delay pregnancy until later in life for whatever reason (no partner, career, etc). At some point, it may be reasonable (though in many cases completely unnecessary) to harvest eggs, freeze them and use them later with the presumption that her pregnancy chances would be higher using the frozen (and younger) eggs than using freshly obtained (but older eggs)... This is becoming more of an option in women who (as mentioned in the article above by the oncologist) are at high risk of experiencing complete ovarian failure as a result of cancer treatment. But for the rest, it's not clear that it is necessary for most though it would probably beneficial for (the as yet to be determined and at this point not predictable) some.
But my advice, if you're with the right person and are contemplating pregnancy, don't delay!
my "outlier" grandmothers BOTH had children WELL into their forties. My paternal grandmother gave birth to her last child at 49. She had 10. My maternal grandmother had 7. Her last was at 47. So, we're talking in the 1940's these women (and many others) were having children in their 40's.
And one of the things your paternal grandmother had going for her was 80 or more cycles that she didn't have while she was pregnant or lactating before her last conception. During those 80+ non-cycles, she did not have a bunch of follicles begin to mature only to have all but one or two die off. No doubt, this 7+ years of menstrual hiatus helped preserve her store of ova until later in life.
Magnolia: Three of my four grandparents have smoked heavily throughout their entire lives. The youngest one just turned eighty, and they are all in relatively good mental and physical shape. So don't give me any of that cr@p about smoking being bad for you.
"Feminism has been the greatest crime against humanity, including against women themselves, of the modern era."
This woman likes her right to vote, receive an education, choose her mate, and be financially independent. While I can see where these things might seem like a crime to a certain type of man, I think the vast majority wouldn't begrudge me my freedoms.
The stats from the original article don't seem to mean much for women in their 30s or early forties...
I had all three of my children naturally at 36, 41 and 42 - it took one month to conceive #1, four months to conceive #2 and one month to conceive #3. All of the children are super healthy and normal, and all three were unmedicated homebirths.
Two tips for women - one is check on the latest age people conceived on your mother's side of the family - if it's over forty, your fertility may be good. If no one has conceived over 30-35 despite trying, that's a red flag and you may need to make an early start, particularly if you want more than one or two children.
The other tip - Even if your fertility is excellent up to the age of 41 or 42, most women will have problems by 43 or 44. I have been trying to have one last baby at 43-44, hopefully a sister for our daughter, but have only ovulated once in the last eight months according to opks (ovulation predictor kits) and we've had no success so far. It may still be possible to have a child for me - or it may not, but it's clear the chances are now much, much less. This is a huge change from having two babies over 40, born just 15 months apart. Basically your chances can be really good at 40, 41 and 42, but less later. There are some ladies who get pregnant naturally at 44, 45, 46, and 47, and a very few at 48 and above, but for most people their fertility doesn't stretch that far. The only way to find out is to try.
One last point - it's extremely common to miscarry over 40, mostly due to chromosone disorders - most of the miscarriages happen before you've been carrying the baby for eight weeks. A lot of women are put off by this, but if you're determined, it's fairly common to carry a baby to term following one or more of these miscarriages, though there's no guarantee of success.
Another point for the over-45s is to look at how long your ancestors have lived - I have three close relatives who lived over 90 and was surprised to see I had gt-gt-gt-gt grandmothers who lived to be 91 and 94, plus a gt-gt-gt grandfather who lived to be 90. There were also a great many ancestors in their 80s in Victorian times. Some research indicates women are more likely to live to be over 90 if they have a child over the age of 45 - so it may well be that the other way round is also true and that you will have a better chance of conceiving over 45 if you have a family history of people living into their 90s.
The only fertility supplements I took were 15 mg zinc, some folic acid and the herb Vitex Agnus-Castus (I didn't have time to start taking any of this before we tried for #3 though so I'm not sure how much difference they made:)
I have had a very healthy lifestyle all my life and that can sometimes make a difference.
But ladies in their 40s with all kinds of lifestyle histories do get pregnant unexpectedly....so your preset genetic fertility seems to be the most important factor.
Here are somen things I've learned over my time in support groups for over-40s mothers and ttc, and from the research and personal histories we've shared:
For a lot of ladies who don't feel they can have a child just yet but don't want to run out of time, freezing your own embryos or eggs can be an option.
There are also a lot of embryos left over from other people's IVF cycles - this is a kind way of giving them a chance, to have a donated frozen embryo.
Donor sperm from a younger man is cheaper than donor eggs and more likely to succeed in a woman over 40 than if she were to try with the sperm of a man also over 40.
Donor eggs are popular with fertility clinics but are expensive and involve quite a lot of medical interference for the donor as well as for the recipient - surgery and synchronised hormone treatment for both - the odds of success are pretty good from a younger donor and of course chromosone abnormalities would be reduced according to the age of the donor. Sometimes the sychronisation between the donor and the recipient goes wrong and a cycle doesn't work, especially if the donor ovulates sooner than expected.
Clomid can be a bad thing for the over-40s as it tends to thin out the uterine lining, although it does work for some women. Femara and Follistim work better for many ladies - one of our ladies conceived on that despite being very overweight at 40-41.
The person who though being pregnant meant you wouldn't lose eggs at that time is apparently wrong - you still lose eggs, even when they aren't being developed for ovulation apparently (I used to think the same way until seeing the results of the research:) )
The lady from the fertilty clinic is right in one thing - it's important not to ignore your fertility as different people have different fertility chances. But it's wrong to assume you need help without trying naturally first - and remembering to get BOTH of you checked out if a problem occurs, as it isn't always the woman who has a problem - between a third and a half of the time, it will be the man who has issues - and you won't get pregnant if that isn't dealt with!!
Some of the ladies who check in here over 40 will need to do no more than try naturally at home ves pregnant in a matter of and they will find themselves pregnant in a matter of weeks, others may take just a few months, others will need to get help.
It's always a good idea to get your basic fertility checked and also your general health - eg thyroid problems and thyroid antibodies in particular - as many general health issues can block fertility until they are correctly treated.
My top message - DON'T PANIC :)
PS I'm not expecting any problems running around after the children or dying off too early. If you have very serious health issues, this is really something to think about, especially if it doesn't look like the child would be well supported if you passed on. When my youngest turns 21, I'll be 63. I don't see this as a problem given how others in the family have led such long and active lives. I will probably live into my late eighties or nineties, which would mean my youngest will be well over 40 when I pass on. If things take an unexpected turn and I die early, I am comforted by the thought that the three adult children I have will be able to support each other through their lives. For other women, it may be easier to look after one child and provide financially for their future though. Still others already have older children (sometimes 20 years older) who willbe bale to help a younger sibling.
It's very fashionable now to see things in terms of just the parents and the children, and then the children going off and not looking after each other or their aged parents, but in most cultures around the world, I think it's still seen as a fair exchange that the aged parent is looked after for the last few years by one or more of their children after all the nappy changing, childraising etc they devoted to the children earlier on:)
Younger parents do also die unexpectedly - cancer, car accidents, etc, so I think telling a healthy forty or fifty year old who can get pregnant naturally that she shouldn't have a baby is a false one. Building up a support network, education and life skills, plus a financial base for each of your children, building up a strong supportive family, and looking after your own health as a parent of any age - those are the crucial things for any child's future.
As an older parent you may need to factor in what to do if your child has Downs syndrome - even at 50 you're about eight or nine times more likely to have a child without Downs, but obviously the odds go up. How important would it be to you to test to find out, would you be able to care for the child. Most Downs children are far more capable than is generally thought but it takes them longer to develop and most will have more limited life chances. Some will also have other medical problems, eg heart or bowel disorders needing surgery but very few people regret going on to have their Downs child, and a few of them go on to lead fully independent lives too with their own home and job. Downs children will take more of your time to raise, important factors if you feel overloaded already with work, other children, or an older relative you're caring for at home.
Good luck to everyone out ther trying to conceive. It's well worth the wait for those who find it difficult. I think most ladies will succeed, one way or another, in having a child of their own, if they really want it to happen, whether it's with their own eggs, or someone else's, or with a frozen embryo.
Looked through all this again and read some interesting posts written by two men:)
Research in the 1980s suggests that getting pregnant takes a little longer as you get older on average but that it's usually still possible up until at least 40 for most women. At least half of all women at 40 were able to get pregnant naturally in another study (which first made sure there were no underlying fertility problems in either partner).
The first study found that it takes an average of 3-4 months to get pregnant at 28, six months at 35 and twelve months at 40.
The second study found that half of the 40-year-old women got pregnant in 12 months while most of the rest got pregnant in the second year of trying, so that over 80% were pregnant by the end of the second year.
Interestingly a far higher percentage of 40-year-old women got pregnant in the first year if their partner was under 40, so it's clear that male age is important as well - sperm count and quality is higher generally in younger men, though, as with women, there are plenty of men over 40 with excellent fertility.
An earlier study in a religious group in the USA found two-thirds of the women at 40 went on to have children.
There doesn't seem to be any correlation between taking the contraceptive pill and preserving eggs - they still die off if you get pregnant or take the Pill.
Most studies haven't found any connection with loss of fertility and taking the contraceptive pill.
Having said that, I have never taken the contraceptive pill and only used condoms - they seem to have worked very well for me considering my fertility when not using them:) I had my first at 36 conceived in month one, my second at 41 conceived in month four, my third at 42 conceived in month one. At 43-44 I've only ovulated once in eight cycles so things have finally seemed to have gone downhill.
Some research has estimated that 5% of women over 45 are able to have children, a minority, but a significant minority. I doubt that kind of research can be accurate as most ladies over 45 would do anything in their power to avoid getting pregnant....and some of the avoiders would be the most fertile of women who are sure they've been blessed enough already:)
I think egg quality doesn't necessarily deteriorate while the eggs are on hold - I strongly suspect things go wrong while the eggs are maturing ready for release, and in the process of meiosis when egg and sperm combine. I think the overall health of the mother will factor in here. So many ladies over 40 will have health issues that could affect these processes, some of them possibly to subtle to yet be obvious in a medical exam. Perimenopausal hormone changes may also be responsible for things not always developing the way they should.
It does look as though at least half of all women at 40 and 41, and a very high percentage of 42-year-old women, are able to get pregnant naturally and will be far more likely to have a normal pregnancy and healthy normal child than otherwise.
I believe some of the reasons why younger women have trouble getting pregnant are connected to the use of chemicals which, thought harmless to us, are lethal/damaging to eggs, sperm and developing embryos - everything from wood preservative, bug spray, hairspray, garden and farm pesticides and herbicides, certain food additives, the toxins from tobacco and petrol/gasolene etc, the use of medications for the slightest ache or pain, cosmetics (think of all the lipstick women ingest during their lifetimes) etc etc. More women drink alcohol, and in greater amounts, too. Street drugs also damage fertility. There's also research evidence to show that tobacco damges the eggs of daughters in the womb if their mother smokes - so many young women at the moment will be children of smoking mothers and will start off with fewer viable eggs than they should have. Many other women are either overweight or underweight, or have chronic health problems associated with excess fat/sugar intake and too little exercise. It's also true that many women are stressed due to having to earn enough to keep everything going, having to pass exams etc year after year.
On the practical side of things, it's clear that men aren't too happy to settle down early these days either, in fact many wait far too long for their female partners. Many women I know have been strung along for years by a succession of partners who need "a couple of years" each to decide that children were not for them, at least not for ten years or so. The women wait five years or more, give up, then the whole process starts again....so many men just don't want to become fathers. They want freedom and they want not to worry about the financial implications if the family breaks down.
The only way I can see that would free women to have children earlier would be a practical solution. Young women would need to be given a family home of their own. They could then feel able to start a family as soon as the right man came along. Abusive men (violent men, drug users, child molesters etc) could also then be removed without the mother and children losing their home and ending up without most of their possessions in a room in a shelter while the abuser remained free to start assaulting a new partner/children. Most women who wanted children would probably then have them before the age of 35, although not everyone would want children before then - sometimes the "biological clock" is late kicking in...and of course, some women will never want to have children. How all this could be financed would be interesting, but I think it would be possible through rent-to-buy at an easily affordable rent which could be delayed for younger mothers so that they start paying later.
The idea that we should return to a paternalistic society is not really a good one. It wastes too much female talent and would allow some of the worst kinds of men to operate at liberty and prey on women and children.
The fertilty of most women certainly allows them to complete college/university education before starting a family. For some women though, having children first should be a viable option. They would then be able to go on and possibly avoid a career break later on.
The single biggest factor acting against women having children in their late teens and early twenties is prejudice. Motherhood is no longer seen as honourable and as a valuable career. It has never been a paid job despite the fact that you need to pay someone else if you are not there to do it. In a fair society this is wrong. Younger mothers are treated like parasites - which makes me rather angry (and I had my first at 36).
So, in short, we need to be a MORE tolerant and flexible society if younger motherhood was to become an option. A family home needs to be able to come first, paid for later on if necessary, education needs to be pursued later if necessary (a well educated woman will be far better able to provide financial support and a fertile ground for her children's learning as they reach their teens and beyond).
It has proved impossible to have all fathers pay for their wives and families after splits, and very often while the relationship is ongoing as well, no matter what laws a country makes.
For good men, I'm sure there are small crowds of good, loyal women waiting....
A look at what men expect from their lives is therefore also vital. If there is no expectation of happiness or fulfilment from having a wife and family, if they are only adjuncts and not a centre in the man's life, if trading in one woman for a younger one every decade or two seems to be the thing to do, then viable long-lasting families don't look too likely to happen.
Given the current situation, that's why I think the women need to receive some help. Maybe if the women own the family home, the men will try harder to make what they have work??
[Men] want freedom and they want not to worry about the financial implications if the family breaks down.
Now THAT is an important observation. Is it possible in your mind that recent efforts in social engineering have had disastrous effects on family formation and fecundity? Simple behaviorism predicts that aversives will extinguish behaviors.
The only way I can see that would free women to have children earlier would be a practical solution. Young women would need to be given a family home of their own.
So the solution to the huge problems created by past social engineering is more social engineering? Really?? In what sort of deluded world does that make any sense?
I have seen exactly what you propose in welfare families. And frankly, it ain't pretty.
The idea that we should return to a paternalistic society is not really a good one. It wastes too much female talent and would allow some of the worst kinds of men to operate at liberty and prey on women and children.
The current welfare state is a panacea for men who prey on women and children. The number #1 abusers are step-fathers and maternal boyfriends not fathers. Predators seek out welfare moms with broods of kids from an endless stream of fathers.
In the end, paternity matters. Abuse generally requires 2 things: 1) opportunity and 2) lack of inhibition. Men care a lot more about what happens to their own offspring than the offspring of other men. It takes a lot more dysfunction to disinhibit fathers than other men.
In a functioning home, the father keeps the would-be predators away.
I well know that some fathers are abusive. But if your goal is to minimize abuse, you need to keep functional families intact and seek to reduce dysfunction. Your plan seeks to minimize functional families and maximize dysfunction.
Motherhood is no longer seen as honourable and as a valuable career.
Yes, past social engineering has ruined things for women too. Honored and valued women stopped having children leaving that role for the other end of the bell curve. Motherhood, in itself, is not a noble or valuable thing. If the women having the most children are parasitic sluts squeezing out a burdening underclass of future criminals, motherhood is neither honorable nor valuable. The whole concept gets tarnished by reality.
A family home needs to be able to come first
Your statement presumes a family. The rest of your post denies the importance of an intact family as if paternity does not matter.
It has proved impossible to have all fathers pay for their wives and families after splits
Which is why it is so vitally important to stop the splits from happening in the first place. The idea that a woman can get bored, leave and take half is wrong and damaging. What do you propose to keep families intact?
if trading in one woman for a younger one every decade or two seems to be the thing to do
That's wrong too, when it happens. However, that outcome is actually quite rare. It's far more common for the wife to pull the plug. The punitive nature of current divorce law from a male perspective almost guarantees the wife kicks the man out of his own home, takes his children, half his wealth, and burdens him with crippling financial obligations. The ex-husband's standard of living drops off a cliff while the ex-wife demands her standard of living remains unaffected.
Granted, after a woman pulls the plug, she will complain if the man goes out and finds another mate -- especially a younger woman -- but that doesn't mean many men are abandoning their families for younger women.
Maybe if the women own the family home, the men will try harder to make what they have work??
Not bloody likely. Stacking things even further against men will only make things worse. Fewer and fewer caddish male alphas will have sex with more and more women while taking greater care not to initiate a pregnancy and not having to worry about the women wanting to cohabitate since they already have secure homes. Your plan would create a Roissy nirvana, and any women who want to have children would have to buy sperm from a fertility clinic.
A wise man I know once used the signature: "Beware the law of unintended consequences."
First of all that is depressing, but who trusts scottish people. I never heard of a scottish doctor. Also I don't think a starlet can be a "let" at 40.
Thanks a lot Bob. Armed with this new information, I'm now so bat-shit crazy that nobody will ever have sex with me.
This sketch is right on the money. Sure, I probably was more fertile in my early twenties than now, but I do have a job, money, a place to live, and a husband. So not having a child back then making me not be able to have a child right now? I think it's worth it. No baby wanted to be with me while I finished my art degree, painting with toxins and smoking even more. And that's a scientific fact. If you are a woman who can't picture life without motherhood, sure, get on it. If you are are like me and are logical about circumstances, science be damned.
Tina Fey: The cover story of New York Magazine this week is "Baby Panic". This goes perfectly with the other magazines on my coffee table - "Where Are The Babies?", "Why Haven't You Had A Baby?", and "For God's Sake, Have A Baby!" Thanks, Time Magazine, just what I need - another article so depressing, I can actually hear my ovaries curling up.
According to author Sylvia Hewlett, career woman shouldn't wait to have babies because our fertility takes a steep drop-off after age 27. And Sylvia's right; I definitely should have had a baby when I was 27, living in Chicago over a biker bar, pulling down a cool $12,000 a year. That would have worked out great. But Sylvia's message is basically that feminism can't change nature - which is true, alright. If feminism could change nature, Ruth Bader Ginsberg would be all oiled up on the cover of Mac - but she's not.
Ladies, there's no reason to panic, though. It's out of your control, anyway. Either your cooter works, or it doesn't. My mom had me when she was 40, and this was back in the 70's, when the only fertility aid was Harley's Bristol Creme. So, waiting is just a risk that I'm going to have to take. And I don't think I could do fertility drugs, because, to me, six half-pound translucent babies is not a miracle. It's gross. I'd rather adopt a baby, I don't need a kid that looks like me. I was an ugly kid. I looked like a cross between that chick from the Indigo Girls and.. the other chick from the Indigo Girls. Not a cute kid, alright.
Dratch, Poehler, Maya? how do you feel about author Sylvia Hewlett?
Together: We hated Sylvia Hewlett!!
Rachel Dratch: Yeah. Sylvia, um, thanks for reminding me that I have to hurry up and have a baby. Uh, me and my four cats will get right on that.
Amy Poehler: My neighbor has this adorable, cute little Chinese baby that speaks Italian. So, you know, I’ll just buy one of those.
Maya Rudolph: Yeah, Sylvia, maybe your next book should tell men our age to stop playing Grand Theft Auto III, and holding out for the chick from "Alias".
Rachel Dratch & Amy Poehler: Yeah..
Tina Fey: You're not gonna get the chick from "Alias"!
Maya Rudolph: Yeah, why don't you just shut up and put a baby in here! [ encompasses her crotch ]
Amy Poehler: You guys want to go and, uh, stare at Ana some more.
Man, the women (well most) on this post got so emotional and used worthless backwards reasoning to justify abstaining from having kids. "My grandma had twenty kids up until age 57 so this study and everybody is wrong blah blah blah..."
Hmmm maybe the reason why a woman having a baby at age 42 is an anecdote is because it is rare. Especially in the modern world where women abstain from childrearing so they can dream of being on The Bachelor. Also as another poster mentioned, if you were to have concurrent children it kind of prevents the woman from losing as many eggs. It also probably adds a sheen of protection to the womb which is missing in her less fecund female counterparts. So it would be more likely that 19th century baby factories had more kids into old age.
What a lot of these older mothers also fail to reckon is the absolute genetic quality of the humans they are birthing. It is well known that eggs develop mutations as a woman gets older. In fact they know that a woman at age 40 has like a 1 in 105 chance of having a kid with down syndrome. Now consider that statistic doesn't take into account the litany of defects leading up to a full blown mongo baby. So even if a woman at 40 gives birth the likelihood of that kid having lower IQ, autism, hearing problems, Type 1 diabetes etc. etc. goes up and up and up! I would like to know how many problems these children born from these older mothers actually have.
And let's be honest with ourselves, females will use all sorts of bizarre, emotional rationalizations to avoid the burden of childrearing as long as possible because it is disadvantageous to them on an instinctual level. Having children burdens a female and "lowers" her status in the eyes of rich successful men. Their reasoning goes like this: Why should I accept babies when I'm a hot 22 year old at my peak fertility? I'm a girl I should be able to choose who I want and get the guy everybody else wants no matter what age I am! blah blah blah blah.
If I were a girl I would be afraid of the stork because it would mean that I'd be out of the running to somehow, someway, end up in the bedroom of next year's pop music male superstar. Call it the "George Clooney or nothing!" effect. Fertile women will use any excuse in the book to avoid the burden of child rearing in order to maximize the amount of time to build status in their minds (college degrees, wardrobes, feeding the next generation of African warlords etc.) Additionally it maximizes the amount of time to hunt for alpha males. Until they become desperate, foolish, cougars who'd date a terrorist bomber if he agrees to be seen with her at the next summer bar-b-que.
In reality all that this lottery thinking does is put the genetic health of the country at stake. Women must be coerced to have babies with the males around them when they are young and pretty. Pot bellies be damned they shouldn't be allowed to chase a romantic specter endlessly.
What should be done is make prostitution legal, then add then penalties to businesses for hiring women up until age 35. By taking money out of the mouths of babes suddenly you'll start seeing them sing a different tune. This would allow men to take back most of the service jobs given to females by horny middle managers and allow older women a way into the work force without having to compete with sexy young things. (exceptions will be made for genius female scientists/doctors/engineers or rich chicks that can pay the fine. We'll have an IQ test specifically designed to see if the girl is smart enough to be useful other than as a sex worker. Call it the Prostitution Escape Test, P.E.T. for short.) That way most young women would be forced to either depend on their family or use prostitution to make money. Also it will be a crime for taxpayer funded Non-Profit companies to hire women as volunteers just so the girl can get a free trip to some Third-World country to do narcissistic "save the children" work. Women actually love traveling because they get to display themselves to a wider audience of men. Young women should not be allowed to stroke their egos overseas, squandering their fertility for years and years, as a cheap way to feed their travel bug. Besides having all those hot American 20 somethings prancing around in foreign countries only teases the natives as to what they can't really have. We need our hot young women here and now, not in Papa New Guinea! They can do all that missionary work when they are old and withered and can test their supposed remaining fertility on islanders to their heart's content. Women who are sex workers can no longer make outrageous demands out of their partners in order for sex to occur, "he must be skinny, athletic, funny, rich and an Emmy nominee!" All that they can do is accept money, lest the sex worker be sued for discrimination.
A national effort should be made to categorize all citizens for STDs, if found to have an incurable disease, male or female, they get put on a blacklist and forbidden from having sex with fertile young clean females (or males for that matter.) The STD people can have sex with each other but nobody else. Lists will also be made of the young girl's previous partners so men will know how experienced and loosened the girl is. A rating system will be established as well. Obviously you will have to sign away some of your privacy, but this is what you give up in order to have access to pretty girls. This way we can have a nation of clean, attractive, beautiful young pornstars working to win the approval of hardworking, clean, well-adjusted males who know for a fact that earning money and being disciplined means getting sex. In this new America becoming a sex worker for a female is a matter of pride - like in Los Angeles, but just all around now. This idea completely rebalances the agony that our system is in right now. In effect this will make getting hot sex much easier for the random average guy and put a pinprick to the American girl's bottomless demands. We can do it. We have the technology.
If the female wants a baby she could simply auction off her vagina to the highest bidder of men wanting offspring with a young girl and have them pay for a young beautiful child. Marriage would be an option, but only an option. The guy wouldn't have to stick around, however, he will have to pay for the baby one way or another according to the female's price. This would make money valuable again. Marriage would also be valuable as a way for a man to secure an attractive sex worker/breeder for himself. Divorce and all that stuff will be unchanged, so that the male must really hesitate before contemplating taking a sex worker out of the market. This might mean that only rich guys have the best babies, but so what, that's the way it is now. If a pretty girl has a baby with a guy without charging for it, then it is her own darn fault for giving away a cash crop for free.
This way nicely rations the beautiful females more equitably amongst paying men, unlike now where beautiful snobs cherry pick a couple studs at the expense of the hundreds of other guys who want her. It may sound primitive the way I paint the idea in broad strokes, but c'mon that is who we are and what we are dealing with today!
After a few generations of this spinsterhood crap we'll have mountains of young people living with mental disorders and other weirdness because their mom was too proud to have them at 24! This must change. I offer that change! Darn it! I've got to move these ideas to a website.
I'm sure no one will read this, but i am 37 and have just been told I have no eggs left. The article isn't that off. I was told I waited too long. So for the few of you who have had "zero" problems, feel blessed. I don't feel I'm in the minority of women who "waited" and will now remain motherless for life.
It is my interpretation of some of the comments, that the women felt "attacked" by the data outcome of this study. Listen up ladies, this information is not meant to judge you physically or the decisions you have made in life. It is only information, it must be accepted in that fashion. Many women wrote of women or themselves or other women who had children in their 40s, a child was born, so this was public knowledge. What will stay unknown, is how many women that they knew who were NOT able to conceive; this is usually kept private. Possible is one thing, the norm is another thing.
Rather than tear each other down, we need to accept that there are a variety of ways women will live their lives. Some will go to grad school, some will become mothers naturally, some will buy buy donor eggs, some will stay motherless. We don't all have to be mothers, but we also shouldn't shun women who choose to be a mother or ones who don't. Please take this info at face value, if you are in your late 20s or early 30s and think you want children, have them. Don't put if off for many more years, that's all I see this data as saying.
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