There is no ideal age to conceive a child that works for all women. Do you do it young so you have plenty of energy or when you’re older and more financially stable? The best time to conceive from a biological point of view is often no longer the best time for a woman to conceive due to her career goals, financial status or personal preference.
Women in industrialized nations are tending to wait longer before they have children than they did before. Fortunately, women today do have options, such as freezing their eggs and using in vitro fertilization, that enable them to conceive at a later age.
Best biological time for conception
Fertility begins when a teenager hits puberty and the 20s mark a time of high fertility in both men and women. Women experience a slight reduction in fertility when they reach their 30s but it decreases significantly between the ages of 35 and 40. Most women in their 40s are still able to have a healthy pregnancy and birth but the risks increase significantly.
According to IVF Authority, a woman’s age is the most important factor for having a successful pregnancy if she is using her own eggs. If you are under 35 and considering IVF, the good news is that IVF success rates under 35 are quite promising. After 35, success rates drop rapidly and using donor eggs may be necessary to achieve success.
Some women may be psychologically prepared for pregnancy in their 20s and others may not feel ready at all. Having a baby causes lifestyle disruptions and some couples want to be able to accomplish certain goals, like traveling, before making this commitment.
Having a baby requires patience, flexibility, willingness to receive help and other qualities that often only develop over time. There is research that suggests the brain does not fully develop until 25 years of age.
Some couples may be emotionally ready to have a child in their 20s and others may only be ready in their 30s or older. Having good family support, being able to manage stress, eating healthily, and getting enough sleep all contribute to overall wellbeing and the ability to cope with a child.
Earning a good income, owning a home, having access to health insurance and other factors can affect the decision about when to have a baby. More people than ever are pursuing college degrees and it can take some time before they are able to pay off student loans and start becoming financially stable.
Raising children can be expensive, especially when living in certain cities, and those who want to give their children the best opportunities in life often wait a bit longer to have them.
Studies have shown that children born to parents who are older and more established in life tend to do better later in life. However, children born to mothers over the age of 35 are also at greater risk of having genetic and other disorders as well as possibly needing assisted reproduction, such as IVF.
Age isn’t the only factor that can affect the ability to conceive. A number of couples have trouble becoming pregnant regardless of age due to various medical conditions and they have to take these into account when thinking about when to conceive. For example, a condition like endometriosis usually becomes worse with age and can cause infertility.
This could hasten a couple’s decision about when to have a child. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is another condition that is a cause for concern when trying to conceive and may influence the decision about when to have a child.