Age and Infertility
Contrary to popular belief—not only a woman’s age is directly related to female infertility but both men and women’s fertility is affected with age. Through 18-24, women are at their peak of fertility. The optimum age for women to get pregnant is naturally between the ages of 20-25. After the age of 26, women’s fertility starts to gradually decrease and by the age of 40 it is increasingly difficult for women to conceive naturally. Male fertility is less affected by age; however infertility still increases in men as they get older.
Age and Female Fertility
Women are born with a finite number of eggs. Ovulation occurs every month during a woman's menstrual cycle and as a result, the number of eggs women produce decrease with age. Women continue to release eggs every month until menopause, however, as women age; the body responds less to hormones that mature ova prior to ovulation.
IVF success rates vary depending on the age of the woman, the method of IVF treatment, the number of embryos transplanted and the cause of infertility. Fertility starts to decline naturally as women age. The quality of the eggs begins to decline from the age of 25. The risk of children being born with genetic disorders increases drastically in women over 40. Women over 35 are at high risk of miscarriage and problems during pregnancy. IVF treatment for women between the ages of 26-35 has the highest success rate.
Average statistics for IVF success in women
- 35 and under: 30% success rate
- 35-38: 24% success rate
- 38-40: 20%
- 40-44: 4-10% chance of success
- 40+: 2%
Older women are often recommended assisted hatching or egg donation to improve their chances of successful IVF. In particular, IVF with egg donation is recommended for women over 45.
Age and Male Fertility
Unlike women who do not continually produce eggs, men produce sperm all of their lives. Technically, there is no age limit for men fathering children but the quality of sperm decreases with age and can cause male infertility. Sperm produced by males over the age of 55 has lower motility making it harder for sperm to fertilize eggs and more likely to be affected by genetic disorders. The decrease in sperm quality with age is a result of the testes shrinking as men age.