What is the best age to get pregnant? That is the million dollar question that most women wants to get a specific answer. But the truth is there is no direct answer to which age is best to conceive. A number of factors must also be taken into account.
In the US, the average age of first pregnancy is 25. In Japan, it’s 29, and for the European countries it’s 30. Undeniably, age has something to do with fertility. But it is not enough to say that you can not bear a child beyond any prescribed age as women’s best reproductive years. Enjoy reading the ultimate “Best Age To Get Pregnant” pregnancy guide 2020.
In a nutshell:
- Your body is the most robust in your 20s, and the chances of getting a healthy baby is the highest. But, most of the time, there is a lack of finacial stability and of life experience.
- We at pregadvice think that the early 30s are the best age to get pregnant. It offeres the best compromise between maturity and biological succesrate of getting a healty new born.
- For women over 40 it is very rare to get a baby without any complications. We do not recommend this age to get pregnant, check our alternatives section.
- Alternatives for over 40s: Egg donation, Eggs freezing, Surrogate Mother and Adoption.
Unlike men, who can reproduce sperm, women are born with a fixed number of eggs. The number differs from woman to woman but all start with at least 1 million eggs at birth in their ovaries.
Eggs that are ready for conception are quite few. Even if a woman can ovulate 500 times between the ages of 12 and 52, still not all eggs can be truly viable for pregnancy.(reference).
A woman’s ovaries are naturally programmed so that only one egg cell grows, matures, and is released (“ovulated”) in each cycle (usually every month). This one egg represents the only chance of pregnancy in that particular menstrual cycle.
The ovulation of an egg can be either normal or abnormal. If it is normal, great – then you have a healthy pregnancy. But if it is not? Abnormal eggs normally do not fertilize or implant in the uterus, but in the rare case that they do, they can lead to miscarriage or genetic disorders such as Down syndrome.
Corrolation between age and fertility
It can be shown that age has the strongest correlation with a decreasing amount of fertile eggs. Before the age of 37 the average annual decline is 4.8% compared to 11.7% thereafter.
The difference in egg quality between a 25-year-old and a 40-year-old is a matter of the statistical likelihood of the one egg she is ovulated being normal. Because women in their late 30s and 40s have a higher percentage of abnormal eggs, it is much more likely that their one egg each month will be abnormal. That is why natural fertility declines with age, and why we see infertility, miscarriage, and genetic disorders more often with women over 35.
It should be mentioned again that the quality of the woman’s eggs deteriorates with the age of the woman, which leads to the fact that fertilization does not succeed, and pregnancy does not happen. This is confirmed by the fact that the fertilization of a young egg from a donor leads to success even in old age. Of course, other problems may arise, more on this later.
This is also the reason why freezing eggs works: At a young age eggs are frozen to resist the aging process and used at a later stage for pregnancy. Also later more on this topic.
Pregnancy age comparison: 20s vs 30s vs 40s
In the previous section it became clear that the probability of pregnancy at a young age is higher due to the higher number of healthy eggs that can be fertilized. However, whether it makes sense to become pregnant with a young age, is a completely different question which we will be the focus in our next section.
We gathered the most important advantages and disadvantages for each period of time: 20s, 30s and 40s – klick on the one you are interested in.
Even though we at pregadvice think that getting pregnant in the 20s is a decision that is of a too large scale to make at such an early age, there are also some advantages to it.
On the physical level, this is undeniably the best age to get pregnant. Your twenties are the years where you have the most of your energy and that is for sure needed when handling a newborn. The earlier you are in your 20s the higher the chance of conceiving. It is almost effortless. The bones, back, and muscles, at this age, can withstand the force expected that the body can muster during pregnancy. Furthermore, this means a lower change of miscarrying, chromosomal disorders, having gestational diabetes and in general a higher chance the baby to be fitter and healthier.
But these advantages come with a high payment, the payment of having to care for a baby with all your time, in a life phase, where other priorities might be of more importance to you. Priorities, such as
- career and money
etc, become way more difficult. Not only is this the age where you probably do not have much life experience in general but miss out on gaining it. If you are not emotionally and financially ready to take up on the responsibility of raising and looking after another human life aside from your own, it would be safe to say that getting pregnant should not be in your list of options. As what many would say “It might be the perfect time but it is not the right time.”
We at pregadvice specialize on this age because we think it is the age with the best balance between biological success of having a healthy newborn without complications and a self-fulfilled life with a lot in experience.
Close to all the advantages from the 20s apply here in the early 30s, and on top of that, you had time for self-fulfillment. Therefore, financial stability is most likely granted, you are emotionally matured and ready for all the problems that may come. Statistics also suggest that in average most women in the world experience their first pregnancy within this age (reference).
Even though this sounds promising, keep in mind that the odds of going through a healthy pregnancy from start to end, decline rapidly from the age of 38. And most of the time, this is the age where your career is starting to pop of, so the decision will not be easy to make.
When you reach your 40s, you are now entering the toughest years to get pregnant. At this point, the supply for quality eggs is diminishing which will make pregnancy a challenge. It is an age where it is difficult, close to impossible, to get a baby without any complications. Most of the time, your body lacks the strength of going thought pregnancy. Thus, it is not only a danger for your baby, but also for your own body.
Even though, this is the time where you probably have reached the peak of your career, had enough time to live your life and are emotionally the strongest, we do not recommend this age to get pregnant. But if you plan to get a baby in your 40s, there is still hope and some alternatives, which we will discuss in the next section.
Alternatives to a regular pregnancy
In this section the alternatives to a normal pregnancy are described. This is particularly intersting for 40 years and older women. The most common ones are
- Egg donation
- Egg freezing
- Surrogate mother
Egg donation involves stimulating the donor’s ovaries with drugs to allow several eggs to mature simultaneously, which are then retrieved by puncture, usually under anesthesia. These eggs are fertilized with sperm by in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection and transferred to the recipient (embryo transfer) for later transfer.
There are two ways for choosing a donor: anonymously and known donor. Anonymous donors can be found through agency or fertility center and has the advantage of simplyifing some of the legal isssues. If you choose to have a person from your environment as a donor, such as a family member or a friend, the baby can build and establish a relation with the donor. But most egg donation is anonymous.
What physical traits are of importance for you?
Choosing the right donor can be difficult. Thinking about physical traits such as
- skin tone
- hair color
will help you to narrow the number of possible women to choose from.
Personal traits may also be considered, and help you pin point the right donor between multiple candidates. Are you willing to work with a first-time donor, or would you prefer someone who has been through this process before? If you work with a previous donor, you may be able to determine whether she has produced a large amount of viable eggs and whether they have led to a successful pregnancy.
Egg freezing is a method used to preserve the ability of women to become pregnant in the future.
The eggs retrieved from your ovaries are frozen unfertilized and stored for future use. A frozen egg can be unfrozen, combined with sperm in a laboratory and implanted into your uterus.
To freeze your eggs, you go through the following steps:
First, the woman is stimulated with medical hormones. This is done to ensure a production of multiple eggs, instead of a typical single egg. Of course, this come with unwanted side effects, like shifts in the hormone balance. After 10 to 14 days the eggs are ready for retrieval.
Egg retrieval is the phase in which the matured eggs are getting removed. This is usually done with a suction device, connected to a needle that is guided through the vagina into the follicle. Up to 15 eggs can be retrieved per cycle. After this exhausting procedure, the body must rest and feeling of fullness for weeks is quite normal.
Shortly after the retrieval the unfertilized eggs are brought to minus temperature, conserving the egg for future use. One process to achieve this without damaging the inner cells is called vitrification. This causes the egg to quickly have a temperature of around -195°C, making it glass-like.
A surrogate mother is a woman who, for the duration of a pregnancy, makes her uterus available for a foreign fertilized egg, i.e. “lends” it to carry a child for the genetic mother. This is regulated in a contract, where the surrogate mother will receive a payment in return.
An embryo with the genetic information of the (ordering) parents is implanted into the uterus of another woman, the “surrogate”, where it leads to pregnancy. The woman thus carries a foreign embryo that is not her own. The surrogate mother takes over a “birthing function” and is not hereditary related to the embryo or the child. The legal situation depends on the laws of the respective state.
A woman’s egg is fertilized with the sperm of a known or unknown man. This makes her the biological and genetic mother. If she passes her child on to the natural genetic father, the latter’s wife takes on the role of a social mother.
Adoption establishes a legal parent-child relationship between a child and the adopting parents. Once the adoption is completed, it gives the adoptive parents rights and obligations identical to those of the biological parents. Adoption is a complex process – in terms of the ways in which children are put up for adoption, the different procedures by which parents can adopt, and the laws governing these procedures. Here are three different adoption possibilities: foster care adoption, Private domestic adoption and International adoption.
foster care adoption: Children adopted from a foster family are children who were removed from their families because their families were unable or unwilling to provide adequate care.
Children are placed in foster care through no fault of their own because they have been abused, violated, neglected or abandoned. While the children are under, hopefully, temporal care of the state, the biological parents can get them back by completing services. This opportunity is not registered by all, so a child in foster care may lead to being adopted.
Private domestic adoption: This group is defined as children that have never been part of the foster care system before their adoption. They are from within the united states. Such adoptions can be arranged independently or through private adoption agencies.
International adoption: This group includes children from countries other than the United States. Usually this is done thought adoption agencies, which coordinate with adoption agencies and other institutions in the children’s countries of origin.
The question of when to get pregnant is in the end a tough one to answer. Even though there are many advantages preferring a pregnancy in the 30s, like the gained life experience, emotional and finical stability, in the end, it is a question of personal preference in which period of life you decide to get pregnant. Pregnancy is a multi-layered endeavor.
While age can be a determining factor, other things also plays an important role for your readiness to become a mother: socially, emotionally, financially. As we saw above, each age range has their own positive side and negative side. Every pregnancy requirement is different from one woman to another. There are also many alternatives that should be considered, especially if you are in your 40s. But no matter what the answer to this question may be, we at pregadvice will guide you though all the complications that come with a pregnancy.