Fertility changes with age. In women, this is very conspicuous and the window period of fertility is much smaller than in men. Males & Females attain fertility with the onset of puberty. For girls, fertility begins with the onset of ovulation and menstruation and ceases with the onset of menopause. Women can no longer conceive naturally after menopause, according to common belief.
In today’s scenario, age-related infertility is more common due to various reasons. Many women prefer to concentrate on a career for financial security and wait until their 30s to begin their families. Women take care of themselves better, so are far healthier & more updated about information available.
In general, women’s reproductive potential declines as they age, and fertility usually ends 5 to 10 years before menopause.
SIGNIFICANCE OF OVULATION AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE IN FERTILITY
During their reproductive years, women have regular monthly menstrual periods because they ovulate regularly monthly. Eggs mature inside fluid-filled spheres in the ovaries – called “follicles.” When a woman has her period at the beginning of her menstrual cycle, a hormone released in the pituitary gland (located in the brain) promotes a number of follicles on both ovaries to develop faster. The pituitary hormone that stimulates the ovaries is named FSH (FSH). Normally, only one of those follicles will reach maturity and release an egg (ovulate); the remainder gradually will stop growing and degenerate. Pregnancy results if the egg gets fertilized and gets attached to the lining of the uterus. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the endometrium is shed because conception hasn’t occurred and we say that the cycle has begun again.
In their early teens, girls often have irregular ovulation leading to irregular menstrual cycles, but by age 16 they ought to have established regular ovulation leading to regular periods. From 26 to 35 days, a woman’s periods will be regular until her late 30s or early 40s, when they will get shorter. As time passes, she is going to begin to skip ovulation leading to missed periods.
Ultimately, periods get prolonged or become infrequent until they cease completely. When a lady has not had a menstrual period for 1 full year, she is claimed to be in menopause. Fertility falls as women age due to natural, age-related changes in the ovaries. A woman is born with all of the egg-containing follicles in her ovaries that she will ever have, unlike men, who continue to produce sperm throughout their lives.
At birth, there are about one million follicles. By puberty – about 300,000. Only around 300 of the follicles left at puberty will be ovulated during the reproductive years. The majority of follicles are not used up by ovulation and are eventually lost due to atresia, a degenerative process that happens independently of a woman’s condition, such as pregnancy, normal periods, being on birth control pills, or being treated for infertility. Menopause appears to occur one year earlier in smokers than in non-smokers.
FERTILITY IN THE AGING FEMALE:
In her 20s, a woman’s reproductive years are at their maximum. Fertility gradually declines within the 30s, particularly after age 35. A healthy, fertile 30-year-old woman has a 20% chance of becoming pregnant each month she tries. That means that just 20 out of every 100 fertile 30-year-old women who try to conceive in one cycle will succeed, with the remaining 80 having to try again. By age 40, a woman’s chance is smaller than 5% per cycle, so fewer than 5 out of each 100 women are expected to achieve success monthly.
Women do not remain fertile until menopause. The average age for menopause is 47, but most women cannot have successful pregnancies in their mid-40s. These percentages are true for natural conception also as conception using fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Much misleading information is spread through the media, which often misinterprets the age impact and an attempt is made to make patients believe that fertility treatments such as IVF are the easiest way to get pregnant. The natural process of conception, as well as assisted techniques for pregnancy, are greatly affected by age. Great nutritional status, as well as the solid foundation of financial security, does not reverse the biological clock.
The success rate of infertility treatments is affected by a woman’s age. The age-related loss of female fertility happens because both the standard and therefore the number of eggs gradually decline.
FERTILITY IN THE AGING MALE:
Unlike a woman’s first reduction in fertility, a man’s sperm characteristics fall considerably later. Sperm quality deteriorates as men age, although it usually does not become a problem until a guy is in his 60s. Changes in fertility and sexual functioning do occur in men as they get older.
Despite these changes, the ability to father a child even in the 60s and 70s with a younger partner is possible
Men’s testes decrease and get softer as they age, and sperm morphology (shape) and motility (movement) tend to indicate no. There is a slightly higher risk of genetic defects of sperms, happening during DNA fragmentation.
Any illness like diabetes, BP adversely affect their sexual and reproductive function. Not all men, especially those who maintain their health over time, have major changes in reproductive or sexual functioning as they age.
Improved health status does not interfere with the natural age-related decline in fertility. It’s critical to realise that a woman’s fertility decreases as she ages due to the natural decrease in the amount of eggs left in her ovaries as she ages. This decline may happen much before most girls expect.
While addressing infertility age is the main contributing factor. There are other contributing factors like ovulation disorders, hormonal imbalances, tubal defects, varicocele, infection & uterine fibroids to name a few.