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what age are women no longer able to conceive naturally?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Does anyone know the average age that women generally will no longer be able to conceive naturally? (get pregnant without the use of fertility treatments)

The average age of menopause is around 50, right? So why am I reading about women in their early 40s having fertility treatments because of failed attempts for pregnancy? Is it simply because for some, menopause starts early? Or is it that fertility is actually reduced years before menopause actually starts?

Getting older, I'm starting to think about these things although I'm still a long ways off Curious if anyone has researched this already.

We'd love to have another, and waiting longer would probably benefit our family in some ways, but, I just don't know if it will be an option if I wait TOO long, KWIM? there are pros and cons to each and I'm struggling here

Would love to get some opinions from older moms, or anyone who has an opinion on this
post #2 of 33
Fertility is only partially related to age. Other factors come into play, and sometimes the reasons for reduced fertility are completely unknown even after tons of testing. We started fertility treatments when I was 29 because we couldn't conceive, and eventually conceived, two years after stopping treatments, when I was 35.

Fertility begins the sharpest part of its decline around age 27, but some women naturally conceive babies well into their 40s. In addition, the conception of previous babies is no guarantee that fertility will continue. Plenty of couples have one or more children and find themselves facing the fact that they can't conceive another, even if they are both still young. This is called secondary infertility. Many choose fertility treatments to conceive 2nd or later children.

Finally, it is also believed that male fertility declines with age. Clearly it's not as drastic as it is for women, since men can father babies well into old age, but age can still make that more difficult (and I don't mean from a performance point of view).

I don't know anything about average ages, but I do know that it will be different for everyone, and I've never heard of any good way of determining a specific couple's likelihood of conceiving in advance.
post #3 of 33
A few years ago, I read that fertility starts to tank about 10 years before menopause. So, if the average age of menopause is 50, then the average age of having age-related infertility would be around 40.

However, there's a pretty big range. Some women have age-related infertility starting as early as age 30, while others can conceive naturally until age 50. What's your family history? Do you know when your mother went through menopause? That's probably as good a predictor as you'll get for your own patterns, though it's far from 100% accurate.
post #4 of 33
Both of my grandmothers and my aunt conceived naturally in their mid-forties. I have a cousin in her late twenties who has had trouble and is currently taking the fertility treatment route.

Age can play a part in fertility, but it seems there are a lot of other factors as well.
post #5 of 33
Totally anecdotal, but I got pregnant after trying for less than 2 months, at age 39. When you got pregnant with your existing little one(s), did it happen "accidentally" while not trying to conceive, or did you ttc for a while first? Personally, if it took me a year to conceive, I'd be more nervous waiting to try again, than if it happened quickly or without even trying.
post #6 of 33
The rule is from doctors that if you are under 35, you have to try for a year. Over 35, then they give you 6 months of trying before you start looking at fertility issues. So people that are older than 35 are probably seeing fertility specialists sooner and not waiting as long

But it's not age, my sister had trouble getting pregnant from 22 until 30, then after the age of 30 had 4 kids. My grandmother had kids until she was 42.
post #7 of 33
Generally I think 40 is considered to be the point where it becomes very difficult to conceive naturally. Though like others said, of course you have young, otherwise healthy people who can't conceive. I also have a friend who conceived her youngest child at 45. So it just depends.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Oh I should have added, no fertility issues at all in my family that I'm aware of. And we didnt try at all, or rather at age 35, just one try (actually 2 but neither were "trying") - one of those resulted in pregnancy the first month. So I'm not worried about being able to, as we kind of expect this will happen again whenever we are ready for another. Im just not sure at what age fertility will start to decline. I've read that you can continue to period for many years before menopause but that no egg is released. So does this happen for everyone, or only some people? And how many years prior? I'm a little worried that Im taking it for granted that we are so fertile and that maybe I might wait too long because of that and regret it.

Most interested in hearing about those who have grandparents who at what age having their last.. I think my own was early 40s too. Thats seems to be the answer? and i have no idea what age menopause was for my mom
post #9 of 33
I think everyone is mentioning younger fertility issues because you asked why you see women in their early 40s using fertility treatments if menopause doesn't hit until 50. The bottom line there is that fertility treatments are used when fertility is severely impaired for any reason, and age is only one, plus fertility does significantly decline with age well before menopause is complete.

This article from 2008 has a chart showing fertility decline. I've seen very similar graphs elsewhere. Google should be able to help you find others if you're interested:

http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/AS..._fertility.pdf

There's no one age to pick from a graph like that, but it clearly shows that age affects fertility negatively.
post #10 of 33
Go browse the TTC forum for the 40+ thread. There are several of us who have conceived natural past 40. Personally, I conceived first try at age 36, miscarried, took 8 (stressful, for lots of reasons not just TTC) months to conceive again (at 37). Conceived 2nd or 3rd cycle at age 40, miscarried, and conceived again 4 cycles later at age 41. As for family history, paternal great-grandmother had her last at age 44. All other grandparents plus my mom stopped trying much earlier than that.

if you are concerned about whether you are ovulating, try charting (check out Toni Weschler's "Taking Charge of Your Fertility"). An anovulatory cycle looks much different charted out than an ovulatory one. I've heard OPK tests aren't as aCcurate for us "older" ladies, and that was certainly true for me.
post #11 of 33
As a previous poster said, my doctor told my sil that the first significant drop in fertility is usually around age 27. It really depends. We conceived easily for this baby who was born after I turned 35. I do think as we get older, the likelihood of having miscarriages goes up as well.

There definitely are other issues not related to age that affect fertility. I know my parents ended up putting their names in for adoption before they had my sister as they were struggling conceiving. They ended up getting pregnant while waiting for a placement.
post #12 of 33
I am young (only 24) but I have been going to a Catholic church my whole life.

A lot of women conceive well into their 40's at my church (since we use NFP, that time of life can be a little tricky). At least two have conceived naturally (one I know was an accident) at like 45, 46, 47.

My mom had her last at age 40, (I think she was using NFP after that pregnancy though) and I am not sure what age my grandma on either side had their last.
post #13 of 33
My understanding is that from a population-average perspective, fertility peaks around 24, starts to drop off gradually in the late 20s, and declines much more rapidly after 35. And that for most women fertility is relatively high, so that they won't really notice the changes themselves until the later 30s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aikigypsy View Post
A few years ago, I read that fertility starts to tank about 10 years before menopause.
I've heard this as well. And that if you want to ballpark your own upper age limit on conception, you should take your mother's age at menopause and subtract ten years.

For myself though, I'd really rather not push it to the limit, you know? For so many reasons. Pregnancy and labor are so much harder on an older body. Rates of miscarriage, Down's, and autism rise with parental age. Also a good support system is so key to the early years, I want my parents to be able to provide support at that time, not need it themselves. I want my kids and my parents to enjoy each other. And fertility is so unpredictable, you could end up with unexpected delays and find yourself pushing that age limit even when you hadn't planned to. I'm 32 and hoping for two more kiddies, and it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot of time to make them happen.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post
I've heard this as well. And that if you want to ballpark your own upper age limit on conception, you should take your mother's age at menopause and subtract ten years.
Yikes. My mother had her last period at age 44. I guess that's something to keep in mind....
post #15 of 33
I really just don't know how accurate it is to take your mom's menopausal age and subtract 10 years. IIRC, my mom entered menopause in her mid 40s. My older sister just turned 47 and has been perimenopausal for a year or so. Yet I conceived naturally twice in the past year (I turned 41 in Nov.). It certainly gets harder as you get older, the chances of miscarriage and chromosomal defects rise, but if you are ovulating, you can conceive. Simple as that.
post #16 of 33
But simply conceiving doesn't mean you'll end up with a live baby.
The risk of miscarriage rises dramatically with age, too.
post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Megan73 View Post
But simply conceiving doesn't mean you'll end up with a live baby.
The risk of miscarriage rises dramatically with age, too.
Yes, I believe I said that. Plus, the OPs question was specifically about conceiving, not about carrying to term or having a live birth.
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well I certainly hope to get something out of the conception A miscarriage didn't enter my mind to be honest. I suppose I should have clarified that a little better

Early to mid 40s seems to be the answer. I just assumed most people were done or didn't want more by the time they were of that age, but I guess maybe they stopped ovulating (or were infertile for other reasons) and that is why not many conceive (rather, have a live birth, full term baby) after this age... never gave it much thought until recently. And part of my question was about women years ago who didn't use birth control, and their age at last child. Would be interested in hearing more about ages of parents grandparents (esp. those with large families who did not do natural family planning) with their youngest. Or for that matter one in todays world who might do this (but assume this is too rare to get many replies)

thanks for the replies
post #19 of 33
Well, I think you did get some replies in that vein. As I said, my great-grandma had her last at 44. Another poster said many women at her catholic church have babies in their mid-40s. I personally know a woman who had her 8th at age 42 or 43. Another MDC mama conceived naturally and gave birth naturally to an 11-pound girl at age 42. There are reports in the news from time to time of people in their late 40s who "accidentally" conceive (up to age 50).

I think the thing to remember is that there is no ONE age. It's not like all of a sudden at age 45 all women stop conceiving.(1) It is very individual, but you might find clues to your OWN top age within your OWN family. (2) As long as you are ovulating, The possibility exists for you to have a baby. (3) There are ways to increase your fertility and egg health at any age. Check out "The Infertility Cure" for nutrition and supplement advise on that score.

For me, getting pregnant at 41 was no harder than getting pregnant at 35. For others, it is considerably harder. Would I have conceived even easier in my 20s? Probably, but as I didn't find my life partner until I was 35, I'll never know.
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by karen1968 View Post
Yes, I believe I said that. Plus, the OPs question was specifically about conceiving, not about carrying to term or having a live birth.
Sorry, Karen. I missed that.
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