A woman’s age affects her fertility

Age is no barrier to achieving many things. But it can reduce the chance of a woman getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. A woman’s age is the single most important factor affecting her fertility.

Fertility is ageist

Age is the single most important factor affecting your fertility and your chances of having a child.

Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. As a woman ages, her eggs age with her, diminishing in quantity and quality.

Age is not something we can control. But if you want a baby or another baby, and you’re in a relationship, you can have a conversation with your partner sooner rather than later.

The father’s age can also impact on chance of conception, time to pregnancy, risk of miscarriage and the health of the child.

The facts about women, age and fertility

As a woman ages, it takes longer to conceive and the risk of not being able to get pregnant increases. Also, the risk of miscarriage, and complications in pregnancy and childbirth, increase.

The figures about women, age and fertility

Chances of getting pregnant without IVF

  • Starting at about age 32, a woman’s chances of conceiving decrease gradually but significantly.
  • From age 35, the fertility decline speeds up.
  • By age 40, fertility has fallen by half.
  • At 30, the chance of conceiving each month is about 20%. At 40 it’s around 5%.

Pregnancy and birth risks for older mothers

  • The risks of pregnancy and birth complications – and caesarean section – increase with age. Complications include gestational diabetes, placenta praevia, and placenta abruption.
  • Older women are more likely to have a baby with birth defects or genetic abnormalities.
  • A woman over 35 is nearly 2.5 times more likely than a younger woman to have a stillbirth. By age 40, she is more than five times more likely to have a stillbirth than a woman under 35.
  • For a woman aged 40 the risk of miscarriage is greater than the chance of a live birth.

Myth conception

The myth:

"Women can have children at any age – lots of women have babies in their 40s."

The truth:

Age is the most important factor affecting a woman’s chance to conceive and have a healthy child.

As women age their fertility declines. A woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early 30s, with the decline speeding up after 35. At 40 a woman only has a 5% chance of becoming pregnant in any month. This is because a woman is born with all the eggs she is going to have in her lifetime. As she ages her eggs age with her, decreasing in quality and number.

Age Matters

As women get older, IVF success declines: 40,696 Women in Australia and New Zealand undertaking IVF (autologous fresh cycles) and the success rates (live delivery per initiated cycle)


'Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2011', National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit (NPESU), University of New South Wales

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