There’s a lot of anxiety around the age of 35. It’s the line that’s been drawn between “normal” pregnant women and those of “advanced” maternal age. Though the changes a woman goes through are gradual and ever changing, the age of 35 is the best age to place this line for a lot of reasons.
In our teens and 20s, women are pretty fertile with a very slow gradual decline. In our 20s, most women have a about a 25% chance of getting pregnant in any given month. By the mid-30s the gradual decline becomes more noticeable and by the age of 40 the chance of pregnancy in any given month drops to 10%. By 45 it is rare for a woman to become spontaneously pregnant (though not unheard of!).
Affects of pregnancy on women
When women of “advanced maternal age (AMA)” become pregnant, they are at high risk for complications to their own health. This includes increased rates of gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia.
Risks of pregnancy to the fetus
Once pregnant, women over the age of 35 have a slightly higher risk of miscarriage, birth defects and genetic disorders, and stillbirth during their pregnancies. Though still overall rare, birth defects and genetic disorders are demonstrably more common in older mothers. Down Syndrome or Trisomy 21, for example, occurs in about 1/1000 pregnancies at the age of 30 but a little over 1/100 in pregnancies of women at the age of 40.
What should I do before I get pregnant?
We do not recommend delaying childbearing any more than is necessary for women in their mid or late 30s. However, it’s important that any ongoing medical conditions are monitored and optimized before conception. It’s best if a woman is working towards a normal weight as well. We recommend you come in to be seen for a pre-pregnancy visit before trying to get pregnant to make sure important variables are all being managed. Then, after being on a prenatal vitamin for at least 30 days, you are free to start trying.
What if I’m not ready?
Clock ticking or not, not everyone is ready for a baby in their life. Fortunately, oocyte and embryo storage technology has advanced a lot in the past few decades. For women in their early and mid 30s who are not ready for growing their family but do want the opportunity in the near future, we highly recommend consulting with an REI physician to discuss oocyte (egg) or embryo storage. This is not a guarantee for being able to have a biological child in the future, but it does greatly increase the chances.
Most women in their mid to late 30s are able to get pregnant spontaneously and have a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy. It’s just important that there’s proper planning, education about all tests available to expecting parents and adequate prenatal care during the pregnancy.
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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