Age and Pregnancy- Is There a “Right” Time to Conceive?
Age is in fact the single biggest factor that determines when a vulva owner can conceive such that the risks of pregnancy are minimized, and the birth of a healthy baby is ensured. A common misconception is that only the age of the vulva owner matters, while in reality, age affects the ability to conceive and have a healthy baby for both penis owners and vulva owners.
Female’s Age and Fertility
It is well documented that vulva owners have a natural and inevitable decline in fertility with age. Vulva owners are born with around 2 million eggs, and the number of eggs gradually falls as they age. It has been found that by age 37, vulva owners have about 25,000 eggs left, and 1000 by the age of 51. What is even more concerning is that the quality of eggs also goes down as age increases.
From age 35 onwards for vulva owners, numerous pregnancy risks become quite common. These include- gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, placenta previa, miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, need for cesarean delivery, heavy bleeding after delivery, infant low birth weight, and chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome.
Male’s Age and Fertility
Male fertility starts to decline around the age of 40 to 45 years, as the quality of sperm decreases. Studies have consistently shown that increasing male age is associated with an increased time to pregnancy and decreased pregnancy rates. In fact, increasing male age also increases the risk of a miscarriage and fatal pregnancy complications.
Moreover, another variable in this context that is not commonly discussed is the declining coital frequency and sexual functioning with age, which ineluctably affects the time to conception and pregnancy rates. This is because decreased sexual activity can decrease the chances of conception, and erectile dysfunction (ED) increases with age.
Early pregnancies among adolescents have major health consequences for adolescent mothers and their babies. According to the World Health Organization, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15–19 years globally. Adolescent mothers aged 10–19 years face higher risks of eclampsia, puerperal endometritis and systemic infections. Additionally, some 3.9 million unsafe abortions among girls aged 15–19 years occur each year, contributing to maternal mortality, morbidity and lasting health problems. Early pregnancy can increase hazards for both young mothers and babies. Low birth weight, premature delivery, and serious neonatal disorders are more likely in babies born to moms under 20.
In addition to the medical risks of teen pregnancy, there are some obvious social implications of the same. Unmarried pregnant teenagers may face social repercussions such as rejection or violence from peers, partners, or parents. Violence in a marriage or partnership is more likely to occur for girls who become pregnant before turning 18 years old. Moreover, adolescent pregnancy and childbearing frequently cause girls to drop out of school, thus putting employment opportunities and a chance of financial independence in jeopardy.
When is the Right Time?
Vulva owners can get pregnant and bear children from puberty when they start getting their menstrual period to menopause when they stop getting it. The average woman’s reproductive years are between ages 12 and 51.
The best chance of becoming pregnant and having a healthy baby is if you begin trying in your 20s or 30s, but this may not be suitable or even realistic in a lot of situations. This is because when determining whether or not to start a family, a lot of factors need to be taken into account. For example- “Am I in a healthy relationship? If not, do I have the emotional availability, effort, time, and other resources to raise a child alone?” “Do I have sufficient financial resources to support a child?” “If need be, do I afford the luxury of letting my career and professional growth take a backseat?”
Although the chances of conception go down with age, starting a family late can have some benefits, both for the mother, as well as for the child. For example, In her book Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood, Elizabeth Gregory enunciates the fact that mothers have more maturity and stability over age, and this implies a better quality and well-balanced parenting. Additionally, since women who have children later in life would have more time to achieve personal and professional goals, they can focus more on their child when they decide to have one. In fact, a study from the UK, demonstrated that less unintended harm and socio-emotional issues affect the children of older moms, indicating that “women with more life experience are able to rely upon a wider spectrum of support that can help to ease some of the stress of parenting.”
An option that vulva owners might consider is getting their eggs frozen before the age of 35. This alternative lets them strike a balance between the emotional, social and financial benefits of having children later in life and the difficulty of conception at a later age.
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