Age as a Cause of Infertility

It is probably too well-known to some that the older a woman gets, the more likely she is to have fertility problems. Researchers are just learning that the same might be said for men.

While there is certainly no magical cut-off date as regards to fertility, experts recommend that qualified specialty assistance be sought when well-timed, unprotected sexual intercourse has not resulted in conception after:

  • one year, if the female partner is younger than 30, and
  • after six months, if the female partner is in her 30's or older.

The reasons for this age differentiation in women are as follows:

  • Females are born with all of the eggs that they will have in a lifetime; they do not make new eggs.
  • As the female body ages, so do her oocytes (eggs). There is evidence that older eggs may present with more problems of the DNA, the crucial building blocks of life. There are several schools of thought as to why this may be the case:
    • DNA may become damaged over time from the natural effects of aging;
    • DNA may become damaged after years of environmental impact;
    • The female body may have a 'sorting' mechanism by which it releases through ovulation the most viable eggs earlier in the woman's life, leaving less viable ones later.
  • Females have a higher chance of miscarriage and offspring with chromosomal abnormalities, due to:
    • The higher possibility of chromosomal abnormalities in the available eggs;
    • Greater general risk for hormonal imbalances and other pregnancy-impacting health conditions.
  • As a result of the above, women may either perceive or actually have fewer years to successfully conceive as they age. Diagnosis of any infertility conditions may take several weeks to months, thereby depleting her available conceptual years further. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment itself will take additional time.