Last week marked Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, a time to acknowledge the one in six couples affected by infertility.
Most women begin their reproductive life learning how to prevent pregnancy, but equally important is knowing how to increase their chances of pregnancy should becoming pregnant be something they hope for in their future.
It seems unfair, yet it remains a biological fact that female fertility declines dramatically after age 35. Statistics Canada shows us that in the 1970s the average age for a woman to have her first child was 24. From a biological perspective, this was ideal for maximizing fertility in women. Today, many women are not even thinking about getting pregnant until their 30s.
So what has changed? Today’s women find themselves placed in a social pressure cooker. There’s pressure to pursue and be successful in a career, which can require years of education and financial costs. This then pushes the opportunity to find a life partner and to have children further into the future for many women. Reproductively speaking, education and career goals are not often reached at a biologically optimum time in a woman’s life.
The obstacle of human biology
Women are well educated on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and how to reduce the effects of aging. However, the effects of age on fertility cannot be controlled. Trying to have a baby later in life remains a challenge regardless of how good a woman looks or feels.
Human physiology has not caught up to our present way of life. Fertility decreases drastically once a woman enters her mid-thirties. We are born with between 1-2 million eggs, and by puberty that number has decreased to 300-400 thousand. By 37, most women have around 35,000 left. These remaining eggs are also aging. This leads to an increase in chromosomally abnormal eggs and an increase in the number of miscarriages in this age group.
While age is a common factor, there are other medical conditions that impact a woman’s fertility. These include obstruction of the Fallopian tubes, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and a male partner with low or abnormal sperm.
How science can help
Education about the impact of age on fertility can help women with their family planning. If having a biological child of your own is in your life plan, it is important to start trying when you feel ready. However, if the opportunity isn’t there to pursue that dream until your mid to late thirties, there are options.
Technology such as egg freezing has revolutionized female fertility preservation and is providing women with greater choice. However, it is not a guarantee. The quality of eggs frozen affects the outcome, which is why it’s better to freeze eggs when you’re younger.
It is important to understand the process used to freeze eggs, the success rates and experience of the fertility clinic. Egg freezing is much more delicate than other in vitro fertilization (IVF)-related procedures, and choosing the right medical partner is important. At Genesis Fertility Centre we are proud to have a post-thaw egg survival rate and fertilization rate of 95%.
Seek help early
While medical intervention increases the odds, there is no method or technology that guarantees a pregnancy. Many underlying fertility issues remain undiagnosed until you begin to try for a child. The earlier you seek help, the more options there are if you run into challenges. Consult with a physician if you suspect underlying fertility issues. You should also consult a physician if you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without success if you are under 35 or six months if you are over 35.
For more information visit genesis-fertility.com
This story was provided by Genesis Fertility Centre for commercial purposes. Postmedia/Laura Sgroi had no involvement in the creation of this content.
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