Aging and Infertility

Most people are aware that increasing maternal age leads to a decline in fertility. In fact, the relationship between age and fertility decline occurs fairly acutely after the age of 37 and continues to decline up through menopause. In almost any arena in which age is evaluated, advancing age leads to a decline in either fertility treatment success or ultimate pregnancy outcome. Not only does fertility decline with advancing maternal age, but miscarriage rates and chromosomal abnormalities increase. For women over 40 these risks can increase even further.

Female fertility begins to decline many years prior to the onset of menopause despite regular ovulatory cycles. Although there is no strict definition of advanced reproductive age in women, infertility becomes more pronounced after the age of 35. A classic report on the effect of female age on fertility found that the percentage of women not using contraception who remained childless rose steadily according to their age at marriage.

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