13:26 16th March 2021 | Infertility
Fertility is the ability of a person or couple to conceive. Infertility is when they haven’t conceived after a year of regular sexual intercourse. Advancing age affects both male and female fertility, though the effects are more significant in women.
As women age, their eggs decline in quantity and quality leading to a steady decline in fertility. A woman's best reproductive years are in her late teens and twenties. Chances of conception fall from 25% per cycle in the twenties to less than 5% by age 40. In addition, gynaecological conditions such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis and adenomyosis are more common in older women and can further affect the ability to conceive. Women who get pregnant at older ages are more at risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriages, and stillbirth. Thus younger women have higher chances of conceiving, staying pregnant and having healthier pregnancies.
While many older men can father a child, male fertility starts to gradually decline from age 40 as semen volume and quality starts to decline, and time to pregnancy increases.
Raising children requires financial, physical, emotional and mental resources. Compatibility of a partner, career growth, work demands, and economic considerations are often considered before marriage and conception. Decide early if you want to have children or not. If you do, plan to have them when your chances of conceiving are optimal.
Women who intend to have a family in future but whose social circumstances aren't optimal may consider freezing their eggs for future use. Couples who have difficulty conceiving should seek help within a year of trying if the woman is less than 35 years old. They should seek help after 6 months if the woman is older than 35 and after 3 months if she is older than 40 years old. This will enable early intervention as success rates of fertility treatments are highly dependent on the woman's age.
Your gynaecologist will offer a comprehensive fertility evaluation and an individualized treatment plan. Options include lifestyle modification such as hormonal treatment, gynaecological surgeries, ovulation induction, IUI and IVF. Where the ovarian reserve is critically low, donor eggs may be recommended. In men with azoospermia (no sperm cells in semen), surgical techniques may be used to extract sperm from the testis and donor sperm used where this fails. Women who are medically unfit or who have an absent or damaged uterus will require surrogacy where another woman, called a gestational carrier, carries the pregnancy for them.
Couples who have had a previous child with chromosomal abnormalities or a history of recurrent pregnancy losses may consider having Pre-implantation Genetic Testing. It is also useful for sickle cell carriers who want to prevent Sickle Cell Disease in their children. Your doctor will decide with you what treatment option is best.
Age is therefore an important factor in male and female fertility. Young adults should start early if they desire to have a family, women can freeze their eggs to preserve fertility and couples with infertility should seek early intervention. Our free attendance forums are a great opportunity to speak to our fertility specialists and counsellors about overcoming conception challenges.
By Dr. Sekinat Raji-Olarinoye
Photo credit: Healthline
To find out about how Bridge Clinic can assist you, contact Nigeria’s most trusted fertility centre today.
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