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How does age affect a woman's ability to have children?

Many women are waiting until their 30s and 40s to have children. In fact, about 20 percent of women in the United States now have their first child after age 35. So age is a growing cause of fertility problems. About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 35 have fertility problems.

Aging decreases a woman's chances of having a baby in the following ways:

  • Her ovaries become less able to release eggs.
  • She has a smaller number of eggs left.
  • Her eggs are not as healthy.
  • She is more likely to have health conditions that can cause fertility problems.
  • She is more likely to have a miscarriage.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Dr. Alice Domar
Psychology Specialist

There are a number of factors which can increase a woman's risk of infertility, including age. Other factors are being under or overweight, smoking or being exposed to second hand smoke, moderate or heavy caffeine and/or alcohol use, excessive exercise, certain environmental exposures and depression.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.