Fertility Doesn’t Finish at 40
A common misconception is that you must have children before you are 40. A lot of people believe that our body clock ticks down, and we run out of time. Yes, fertility can decrease as you get older, but it doesn’t just stop when you hit 40. In 2015, research found that women over 40 actually had a higher fertility rate than women below the age of 20!
It is biologically known that as we get older, our ability to have children does decrease. But the actual age that happens will be different for every person and has many contributing factors. In this article, we will look at the average age of becoming parents is going up and why this is happening.
Attitudes are different
Attitudes have changed over the years. More and more couples are deciding to have children later in life. In 2017, the average age of first-time mothers and fathers was 29 years old and 33 years old, respectively. In 1970, this was 21 years old for women.
There are more job opportunities for women, and there have been changes within the traditional family, so many women can now choose to focus on their education and careers before deciding to have a family. In many countries, balancing a career and having children is difficult, with expensive childcare systems and less than generous maternity and paternity leave. When choosing between the two, the more likely option is to get a leg up in their career and make money first.
Contraception widely available
In the 1970s when the age of first-time mothers was low, contraception options were practically non-existent. Women were falling pregnant from having sex at an earlier age rather than being able to control what happened with their bodies.
Contraception was not used much before the 1990s, usually because of social pressures. Increased availability and acceptance of contraception has liberated couples by allowing them to choose when to have children. Perhaps this is a reason why statistics are suggesting that women are more fertile at an older age, when in fact it’s less women choosing to have children at a younger age.
Development in technology
The breakthrough of assisted conception and advancements in healthcare means that over eight million babies have been born thanks to evolving IVF technology. It’s become common practice for many to freeze their eggs in order to combat falling fertility ruining their chances of falling pregnant.
Innovations in technology have allowed older women’s eggs to be frozen without damaging the DNA.
Not all technological breakthroughs need to be complex or invasive, however. Over-the-counter supplements, such as Q10 tablets, have been recommended for men with low sperm count. Research has also found that Q10 is important for female fertility too, with a focus on egg quality.
Research shows the middle-age Britons are becoming healthier, with better diets and more exercise. Research by Harvard in 2018 found that eating healthily and cutting out processed foods assist chances of conception without assistance — the inclusion of folic acid, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids increases conception chances naturally. Women who ate larger amounts of fast food and small amounts of fruit and veg took longer to conceive.
Fertility is different for everyone, and there are things you can do to increase your chance of conception as you get older. Better health and medical advancements are allowing more women to have children as they get older.