Biological clock in women - myth or reality

by The Welthi Bureau | 22 DEC 2017

Biological clock in women myth or reality
 Image used for representational purpose only

India is projected to become the youngest country by the year 2030 and overtake even China in this regard. In this era of increasing urbanization and women embarking on careers, planning a family has taken a backseat. More and more women are opting for late marriages and putting off starting families to even later.



Just as planning pregnancy in a very young age is considered risky for the female’s life and also unborn child, so is pregnancy at an advanced age (above 35 years) ,that can lead to more complications both in the mother and the child.



Its not only pregnancy above 35 years leading to more complications, the risks increases for all pregnancies above 32-33.




What Are The Risks Associated With Planning Pregnancy With Increasing Age On The Woman?




It is extremely essential for all women to be aware that the biological clock is actually a reality. A woman is born with all the eggs at the time of birth which will last for her entire reproductive life. So as age increases, the eggs get older. Older eggs means that increased chances of malformation in these eggs present for the last 35-40 odd years.



Imagine the quality of eggs in 25 year olds and 40 year olds. Thus the chances of having malformed babies increases as women age. The risk at 25 years if 1:1500 will increase to 1:400 at 35 years of age.



This is the reason that while doing follow ups in pregnancy by blood tests and ultrasounds, all software now incorporates mother’s age as an important parameter.



Also chances of having miscarriages increases as age increases, because the hardened arteries carrying blood supply to the unborn child are unable to do so very effectively, again, due to the aging process in the mother.



The rate of losing a pregnancy in the initial stages itself climbs gradually with age, from a 9% miscarriage rate among 22-year olds, to approximately 30% in women in their 30’s. High rates of miscarriage in older women are also more related to egg quality than the physical ability to stay pregnant. We know this because older women who use donor eggs from younger women do not have such high rates of miscarriage.



There is an increased risk of stillbirth in pregnant people as they age .



Not only this, even if the lady were to get pregnant, increased chances of her having lifestyle related diseases like diabetes, blood pressure or thyroid problems which may be present beforehand or may develop due to the stress of pregnancy.



These days lifestyle related hormonal problems like Polycystic Ovarian Disease have also taken centre stage and is creating more problems in older women wanting to start a family.



Is There A Biological Clock In Men Too?



To some extent yes. Male fertility declines with age as well. Researchers have found strong evidence that as men age; they can expect a decline in sperm counts, semen volume, sperm motility, and the number of normal sperm. But the effect is not as drastic as in women.



Now What If The Biological Clock Is Ticking Is There Any Hope?



These days as women are delaying pregnancy, more and more women are opting for fertility treatments because again chances for natural conception also decrease dramatically with age.



Thus, couples resort to fertility treatments meant for both men and women. This initiative has been proven to be fruitful and given hopes to millions of childless couples. But this process is more cumbersome and complicated as compared to the natural way of reproduction. Also outcome may not be as satisfactory.



Another trend among women who want to put off planning pregnancies to later years in their lives, is to go in for freezing of their eggs. These eggs are frozen at a young age (so that ageing process in limited) and can be thawed (defrozen) at a later age when the woman wants to plan pregnancy, so that the effects of age do not come into play. But the flip side is that treatment is quite costly and patient can conceive only through in vitro fertilization (IVF), which again has low success rates.



Male Participation And Starting A Family



The onus of having a child does not depend solely on women. With booming population and a serious hike in expenses in the coming decades, it would be challenging to provide for a child let alone 5-6 children. During the days of our forefathers, children less than 10 were a common possibility.



This was due to lack of awareness and the limited availability of contraception. Due to multiple, safe and easily accessible methods of family planning( cafeteria approach),women are delaying pregnancy .



Keeping the above scenario in mind, not only getting pregnant at an older age(mid thirties) may be a tedious task ,but also carrying the pregnancy so that a healthy baby is delivered might also seem an uphill task. At the end of the day, the right to give birth or postpone a pregnancy is entirely an individual’s choice. A woman’s fertility begins to decline beginning in her 30s, with a more significant decline after the age of 35.



Each month, there’s only a 20 percent chance of pregnancy for a woman in her 30s, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). More and more women today are opting to delay marriage and/or pregnancy until they’ve established careers and aremore secure financially.



Thus, to summarize, in a lady, late 20s is the time to at least start thinking about her reproductive goals and plan a pregnancy in the early 30’s and let all other matters take a backseat.



For Appointments : Dr. Ritu Sethi, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar.

 Disclaimer: Welthi.com does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here, and the results may vary from person to person. Read more
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