28.03.2015

Age for pregnancy and when to conceive

In this digital age, once something is public it seems to be open slather for people to attack. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome makes trying to conceive hard for anyone, let alone someone over 40. Some would say it’s ‘unfair’ to the child, or that giving birth and raising a baby is harder as you age, but Lorna questions all of that. Grace, Lorna’s second daughter, is now two and has made the family of five – Lorna, Matthew, Samantha, 18, Dylan, 10, and Grace – blissfully happy.
And to the naysayers and trolls, never judge anyone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Because second, third (and fourth) pregnancy feels very different to that first time around! Get the week's top M&B stories delivered right to your inbox PLUS competitions and special offers that pay you Rewards Dollars! Sophie from The Young Mummy writes a brutally honest letter to her former self, and reflects on her new life as a mum. We're preparing a new article for our next mag issue and would love to include some advice from you. Having made the exciting decision to start your own family you are sure to be wondering how long it will take to get pregnant.
Like many women, you may have put off having children until the time felt right, and now find yourself in your 30s, wondering how fertile you are.
You may find it encouraging knowing that the number of women over the age of 30 having babies has risen in recent decades (ONS 2010) . Most women will be able to conceive naturally and give birth to a healthy baby if they get pregnant at 35 years old. The average age at which women have in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in the UK is rising.
While many men remain fertile into their 50s and beyond, the proportion of men with sperm disorders increases with age (RCOG 2011). In fact, the older you are, the more likely you are to conceive non-identical twins (Beemsterboer et al 2006, NHS 2010b, Utting and Bewley 2011).
This over-production of FSH can result in more than one follicle ripening and releasing an egg. Over 80 per cent of couples will conceive within a year if they stop using contraception and have regular sex (CKS 2007, NCCWCH 2013:64). About half of the women who don't get pregnant in the first year conceive during the following year, giving a pregnancy rate of 92 per cent within two years. Figures for women aged 30 to 34 and aged 35 to 39 are fairly similar, with 94 per cent and 90 per cent conceiving within two years, respectively (NCCWCH 2013: 65). The two most common causes of female infertility are ovulation problems and blockages to the fallopian tubes as a result of infection (CKS 2007).
You have fewer good quality eggs left, making it more difficult to conceive (Bewley et al 2009, RCOG 2011, Utting and Bewley 2011). As a woman ages it is more likely that she may have had longer exposure to a condition that has not been treated.
Age aside, there are some steps you can take to give yourself the best possible chance of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. Learn more about getting pregnant in your 20s, 30s or 40s, or get tips, advice and support in our friendly community of mums and mums-to-be.
Join now to receive free weekly newsletters tracking your baby’s development and yours throughout your pregnancy. I found a couple of reasonably sciency links(George and Kamath, Socal Fertility) that suggest that the MFR is about 25% for a women aged 25, and 10% at age 35. Given the MFR, the probability of getting pregnant after a given number of months can be calculated with a negative binomial distribution.
So almost half of the (healthy) 25 year olds get pregnant in the first monthtwo months, and after two years (the point when doctors start considering you to have fertility problems) more than 90% of 35 year olds should conceive. Of course, from a male point of view, conception is an embarrassingly parallel problem: you can dramatically reduce the time to conceive a child by sleeping with lots of women at once. This is the argument I used with my husband to get him to start trying immediately (i was 36 at the time and i told him it would take at LEAST a year to get pregnant). Add to this curve that male fertility shows a 21-23% annual decrease starting at the age of 39 and male fertility is believed to be falling at a rate of 2% every year due to environmental pollutants. I really wanted to go to useR but since I’m now self employed, a return ticket to the USA + conference fees seemed a little bit frivolous while saving for a wedding and a potential baby.
Yes, the model is way too simple compared to reality, but it’s good enough for a ballpark estimate. You should take into account that woman get older during next attempts to become pregnant, so MFR will decrease.
Yeah, I thought about that, then decided it was too difficult to model for a quick blog post.


This analysis seems generally optimistic, especially because most of the age groups show a 100% of getting pregnant eventually. Even if you don’t consider this extreme case where MFR=0, this uncertainty on the MFR clearly has a strong influence on the curve and on how to interpret it. On your curve, with MFR=0.05, a woman has 85% chance to be pregnant after 3 years and 95% after 5 years.
I should perhaps have stressed more that this model is based upon women of average fertility for an age group.
Another confusing issue is how to handle subjects who become pregnant multiple times in the data.
My point is that your model is very far away from reality (the real curves would not look at all like that, it would be way flatter after one year) because you take MCR as an input, whereas your only input is the age, from which you make an initial estimation of MCR. The first month, your estimate your MCR from the only information you have: the age, which is what you did.
An MFR of 0.25 means that one quarter of 25-year olds will get pregnant in the first month.
On a more practical note, my wife got pregnant within two cycles of starting to use an electronic ovulation tester. The situation is grimmer than this, because of fetal loss, which, I think, increases with the age of the mother. I just finished reading My Fertility Crisis, which is excerpted from a longer piece you can get on Kindle for $1.99. One of the implications that many people take away from these results is that society should aid those who wish to have children at later ages. The General Social Survey has a variable, AGEKDBRN, which asks respondents when their first child was born. All the x-axes on the plots are age of the mother when the first child was born, while the y-axes are proportions across classes. This is very interesting, but it doesn’t seem to control for the age of aspiring fathers. In fact, if these helpers were not controlled for, then the decline is actually even steeper than shown above, since you’d expect the older women to try harder. I was always curious about differentials in newborn problems (both developmental and genetic) between mother and father ages. Razib is basically right, the time to pregnancy doesn’t change much for men from age 30 to 40. Although some studies show contradicting results, we conclude that increasing paternal age is associated with reduced fertility, at least in couples where men are older than 40 years and women are at least 35 years. You know, I wish that someone would write up the first chart with the source of your numbers and upload it to Wikipedia.
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Lorna’s chances of conceiving naturally or by other means were estimated at about two per cent. You know the most fertile years are in your 20s, but want to get a better idea of how age affects your fertility. Fertility starts to decline for women from about the age of 30, dropping down more steeply from the age of 35 (CKS 2007, NCCWCH 2013:65). Even though male fertility also declines with age (RCOG 2011, Utting and Bewley 2011), it tends to happen gradually for men.
For some women having a multiple pregnancy brings them their dream family in one pregnancy.
But if you are over 35, and finding that positive pregnancy test elusive, it is important to seek help sooner rather than later (NCCWCH 2013:6). An untreated chlamydia infection, for example, can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease, blocking your fallopian tubes. Occupation and lifestyle also have significant impact on male sperm count (lower in persons exposed to heat and solvents, office workers, taxi drivers, etc.). Not doubting you, just curious to read more about it [child health researcher of prime reproductive age].
In the case of extreme infertility problems (for example, you’ve had a hysterectomy and thus have no womb), the MFR is zero, and the chance is getting pregnant is zero over any time period. Clearly, to be interpreted in an intuitive way for a single woman, it does not work, it should be much flatter after 3 years (sorry for that…). A distribution function for MCR, some data to fit it (as apparently provided by Shamus Husheer below), and that’s it. Some constant fraction of the population who are trying to conceive are sterile, so you can make a vastly more accurate model by assuming that you start with e.g.
And then there’s the fact that fecundity rate changes, not least because baby-making intercourse becomes a real drag, so happens less over time. DuoFertility is basically a big data collection and numbercrunching exercise, with the aim of understanding fertility for various population segments and the specific case for each individual woman.


We then combine this with other user-entered data (medical history, self-exams, home test kits) from both her and all the other women in the database, and generate predictions for future fertility as well as flagging up a range of other issues. The reason is that there’s so much information, and much of it is skewed toward people who are undergoing treatment for infertility. Fertility also declines in men, and I would estimate that as women age so do their partners, multiplying the chances of infertility further.
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According to some, 43 was ‘over the hill’ to be having a baby – never mind the fact that the pregnancy was planned. I started seeing a naturopath, cut out alcohol and really focused on my health,” Lorna said. As women grow older the likelihood of getting pregnant falls while the likelihood of infertility rises. By the age of 40 only two in five of those who wish to have a baby will be able to do so (RCOG 2011).
However, the success rates of IVF treatment for women over 40 using their own eggs are low, and have not increased much over the past decade (RCOG 2011).
The decline in male fertility can affect the health of the children they may go on to have (Utting and Bewley 2011). More than one egg fertilised and more than one baby (Beemsterboer et al 2006, Utting and Bewley 2011)! But it is also worth bearing in mind that caring for twins is more demanding of your time, emotions and finances than caring for one baby.
This could prevent fertilisation altogether or increase the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy (CKS 2007, NCCWCH 2013:129, Utting and Bewley 2011). The paradox of declining fertility but increasing twinning rates with advancing maternal age. Does this mean age has something to do with my situation or You suggest I start seeking professional help. Because if it did not work during 3 years, it could be just bad luck, but most likely the MFR is lower than the expected one knowing only the age. This suggests that by 12 months, 90% of those who will ever get pregnant naturally, already have. However, it becomes possible to statistically assign couples to one of these groups based on time trying and a little bit of medical history, and then provide a much more realistic assessment of the chances of natural pregnancy.
Much of the back-end number-crunching is done in R, though we also do a lot of Java and C (and even some number-crunching in assembly on the sensor itself to maximise sensor lifetime). But, there is a tendency not to focus too much on the fact that many IVF successes for women in their 40s are due to donor eggs.
Yes, the cost is going to be in the range of tens of thousands, but that’s the magnitude of a car, and far less than a home. The type of people that I know personally are often in this class; they have delayed starting families to finish their extended educations and invest in their own human capital. The 2nd chart scared me a little, since my girlfriend and I want kids, but not till (an unspecified but faraway time) later. Plus the probability of gestation-related problems probably increases significantly with age. Your body produces more FSH because there are fewer viable eggs left in your ovaries (Utting and Bewley 2011). Losing weight may also help you to conceive if you have the ovulatory disorder PCOS (CKS 2007, NCCWCH 2013:180). I  found a pregnancy probability calculator online which I cross-validated with some of the literature. A clear example of this phenomenon is that very few in the media highlighted the likelihood that Elizabeth Edwards’ last two children were conceived with the help of donor eggs. Since you talk about the poor paying for the rich it would be interesting to see, if data allowed. As you approach menopause your periods may become fewer and further between, making ovulation increasingly irregular too. The dull category encompasses the bottom 35% of the distribution, the not dull encompasses the middle 53% of the distribution, and the smart the top 12% of the distribution. In fact, if these helpers were not controlled for, then the decline is actually even steeper than shown above, since you’d expect the older women to try harder.



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