Maybe you’ve heard from the media, a friend or well-meaning family member that you need to start having babies when you’re in your 20’s or early 30’s. However, for many people, that timeframe is not ideal, feasible, or even possible.
I was studying medicine and pursuing my training during those “fertile” years. In addition, I didn’t meet my husband until I was in my late 30’s--38 to be exact. Although I was never pressured to settle down and start a family, I’ve definitely heard similar stories from many people over the years who have. If you can relate, trust me when I say that you are not alone!
The average age at the first pregnancy is going up. Yet it is still perceived by many that at age 35, a wall suddenly goes up and you instantly become infertile. As I discuss with Dr. Lucky Sekhon, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, that is simply not true. Watch our live discussion below as we talk and answer questions about fertility and pregnancy after age 35!
Dr. Sekhon shares in our discussion that there’s a notion that fertility starts changing more rapidly at age 35 and older. While it is true that fertility does start to be affected as we age, it is different for every individual. We know that the quantity and quality of eggs change over time. We know that we’re born with all the eggs we’re ever going to have, and we cannot change or repair eggs over time, like what we see with other cells in our body. A person over age 35 may have a decent quantity of eggs still available, but it’s actually the quality of the eggs changing over time that creates additional considerations for those having babies age 35 and over. Each egg contains genetic material, with a normal viable egg having 23 packages of DNA. It becomes more prevalent over time that eggs don’t have these full 23 packages of DNA, and you’re more likely to ovulate an egg that doesn’t have the right quality for survival and ability to be fertilized to make a baby. This also leads to an increased rate of miscarriage in this age group.
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
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