Infertility is a global health concern that impacts millions of people of reproductive age. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in six individuals worldwide suffer infertility issues in their lifetime. The substantial number of people affected demonstrates the importance of improving access to fertility care.
However, a lack of adequate research and availability of services continue to be a significant problem in many countries worldwide. Even so, should fertility issues arise, various interventions can be considered. These can range from simple fertility awareness methods to more advanced fertility treatments.
But fertility education is crucial as well. When making decisions about your fertility, gaining knowledge about basic reproductive biology can be beneficial. It can help you understand the potential effects of postponed childbearing and the preventive measures you can adopt to maintain reproductive wellbeing.
Several factors affect fertility. However, this article will explore one’s age’s significant role in male and female fertility. Let us walk you through the basics of fertility and the potential causes of infertility.
Understanding Male And Female Fertility
Fertility is an individual or couple’s natural capacity to conceive children. The quality and quantity of eggs produced determine female fertility and the likelihood of conceiving. However, unlike other cells in the body, egg cells lack the ability to regenerate.
When puberty begins, a female typically has between 300,000 and 500,000 eggs. This number decreases as they age and menstruate each cycle. Different health conditions can also affect the quantity and quality of female eggs.
On the other hand, male fertility depends on the continuous sperm production. The likelihood of fertility is high when each milliliter of semen discharged in a single ejaculation contains at least 15 million sperm.
A lower sperm count in ejaculation can make it more challenging to get pregnant since fewer candidates are available to fertilize the egg. Although the male’s body will continuously generate sperm, it’s not immediate. Generally, it takes about 74 days for new sperm to mature fully.
Nevertheless, both must be in good health for conception to take place. It begins when the sperm cells swim through the vagina and into the fallopian tube. If the sperm doesn’t succeed in fertilizing the egg, the egg dissolves.
Alternatively, if the sperm succeeds, the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and implants in the uterus. If implantation succeeds, the embryo begins its growth, and pregnancy begins. Unfortunately, many people experience problems with getting pregnant because of infertility.
Infertility is the medical term for the inability to conceive after a year or more of unprotected sex. Infertility issues may arise from a complication with the man’s system, the woman’s system, or both.
Each couple has different circumstances that may affect their ability to get pregnant. But, age is a critical factor that significantly impacts fertility in both men and women.
Many believe that IVF treatment can effectively address infertility related to age. However, according to Fertility North, an IVF Clinic in Perth, Western Australia, age affects overall fertility as well as the success of IVF because of reduced ovarian reserve and hormonal changes like changes in levels of Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH).
Thankfully, tests are available to assess and prepare for the challenges of these impacts on men’s and women’s fertility. These may include Ovarian reserve tests, ultrasound scans, and blood tests for hormone levels. Keep reading to further understand the role age plays in male and female fertility.
The Impact Of Age On Female Fertility
Good health improves the likelihood of conceiving and having a healthy baby. However, it doesn’t negate the effects of age on female fertility.
A woman’s fertility is at its peak level between the late teens and late 20s. During this time, the female has the highest number of good-quality eggs available. Pregnancy risks and childbirth complications are also at their lowest during this period.
However, as women age, the supply of viable eggs diminishes. Additionally, there’s an elevated risk of eggs being more vulnerable to damage over time. The impact of age on fertility in women may differ. But generally, female fertility starts to decrease at approximately age 32.
Once a woman reaches her mid-30s, the rate at which fertility declines dramatically speeds up. The quantity of healthy eggs the female body produces diminishes rapidly, especially after crossing the age of 36.
At 40, the likelihood of a woman getting pregnant in a given monthly cycle is approximately 5 percent. It’s not only challenging to conceive at this age. The risks of miscarriage and giving birth to a child with a genetic variation like Down Syndrome also increase.
The Impact Of Age On Male Fertility
Infertility problems often center around women. However, some cases of infertility are attributed solely to issues with sperm production in men. While men never stop producing sperm throughout their lives, the quality of their sperm also declines as they age.
As men age, they change their hormone production, sperm production, testicular issues, and erectile function. All these can affect the male’s ability to produce enough supply of healthy sperm.
Sperm motility, or its capacity to move towards an egg, declines dramatically after age 55. Likewise, the risks of older men transmitting chromosomal and genetic defects also increase due to the reduced genetic quality of their sperm.
Men can also undergo fertility testing to detect any potential factors contributing to challenges in achieving pregnancy. These tests may involve physical examination, semen analysis, hormone testing, and specialized sperm function tests.
Infertility can have wide-ranging effects. It can result in financial and emotional difficulties, straining the relationship between the couples. Likewise, it can have negative social impacts on their lives. But hope is not all lost. Couples experiencing difficulty with conception can seek medical help for infertility. Doing so as early as possible is essential since time is a significant factor in these cases.