Why Age Matters

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At the peak of fertility for all women, somewhere in our early 20s, we actually have about a 25% chance of conceiving each month. If you take someone in their early 20s over the course of a year, 90% of those women will be pregnant. That monthly conception rate does change with time, and so by the time we get into our early 30s, it's probably closer to 20, 15% to 20%. In the mid-30s, it's more like 15%, and at 40, it's probably 10% or under. I think that's a tough question, because conceiving has a lot to do with someone's readiness. The readiness in their life, the readiness of finding their life partner. So there isn't a perfect magic number. We know that it's easiest to conceive when someone is under 35. In general, we define infertility as trying to conceive for 12 months and not meeting the goal. So if 12 months have passed and you haven't gotten pregnant, I think it is a good idea to go into your doctor and maybe begin a workup. But if a woman is over 35, then six months is kind of a better timeline, in my mind, to initiate a workup. Most of the changes that happen as we age are really changes that happen at the level of the ovary. So as the ovary ages, we see depletion in the number of eggs. It's kind of amazing that, as women, we're born with a finite pool of eggs. As baby girls, we have all the eggs we'll have for our whole life of ovulation, and each month, as we ovulate and release one egg, we actually lose several hundred eggs behind it. By the time a woman is about 35, she's gone through maybe 85% to 90% of the eggs in her personal egg reserve. Some people do become anxious, just the thought of being ready to start one's family. My advice is to kind of think of it in an exciting way, as an exciting phase of life that you're embarking on. I think that one's chances of conceiving, in general, are great, you know. And taking measures like being on a prenatal vitamin ahead of time, living a healthy lifestyle, those are all empowering tools that you can use to maximize your chances of conceiving.