Time’s running out if you’re thirty-something and want to have a baby. Dr Gillian Lockwood , Medical Director of the Midland Fertility Services, tells you how to preserve your fertility
We have to face it - human beings, as a species, aren’t very fertile. To be blunt, once you reach your mid-thirties, your chance of getting pregnant is 10-15% each month and by your early forties it’s less than 5% a month. Plus you’re facing a 40% chance of miscarriage if you get a positive pregnancy test.
As you get older yourpattern can become less predictable and your monthly cycles shorter. This means you have a shorter pre-ovulation phase and so your ‘fertile window’ occurs earlier in your cycle.
More depressing statistics to come
Your chances of success will be lower if you or your partner have problems with irregular ovulation or poor sperm quality. And the risk of chromosome abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome, increases rapidly for couples in their late thirties. Find out more about your age and fertility.
It’s not all gloom and doom
Fertility is to a large extent genetically inherited, so you can get a good idea of your reproductive prospects by finding out about your mother – a chance to pry! If your mother had difficulty getting pregnant after her late twenties, and had a relatively early menopause (younger than 45-50years), there’s a chance that you may experience similar problems. If your mother or grandmother had a baby effortlessly in their late thirties or early forties, you’ll probably be able to do the same.
A blood test can also help to assess your fertility
Many fertility specialists now advise women to have a blood test to assess their inhibin B levels. Inhibin B is a hormone produced by the ovaries and it’s a useful predictor of the way the ovaries will respond to stimulation during fertility treatment. It can also gauge your spontaneous fertility and provide vital information about whether you can ‘safely’ postpone trying for a baby for a few years, or whether your ‘ovarian reserve’ is already low and you need to get a move on. It’s a simple blood test taken during days four to six of the menstrual cycle.