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Your Chances of Getting Pregnant By Age

Many indicators can be interpreted to determine your chances of getting pregnant. While some of these indicators require testing by a physician to evaluate, there is one that can be easily used to determine your chances of getting pregnant right now… your age.

Dr. Brahma fertility specialist shady grove fertility
Medical Contribution by Dr. Pavna Brahma

Age is a very important indicator used to determine a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. In addition, the combination of age and the length of time trying to conceive provides insight into when to seek a fertility evaluation.

Dr. Pavna Brahma, SGF Atlanta’s IVF Director, who sees patients in our Buckhead-Piedmont and Atlanta-Northside offices, explains the chances of getting pregnant by age, when to see a fertility specialist and success rates by treatment type.

Chances of Getting Pregnant by Age

At birth, women will have their entire lifetime supply of eggs. As women age, the quality and quantity of those eggs begins to decrease. This, paired with the fact that human reproduction is not the most efficient process, makes timing key.

Many are surprised to learn that each month, on average, a woman only has a 15 to 20 percent chance of conception. For women in their 20s, their chances of getting pregnant within 1 year are 78 to 86 percent. For women 30 to 34, their chances of getting pregnant within 1 year is approximately 63 percent. For women ages 35 to 39, the chances of conception within 1 year declines to 52 percent. This rate continues to decline in a woman’s 40s, until she reaches menopause, typically between ages 48 and 55.

This is not to say that after 12 months of trying, conception magically declines, but rather that most fertile couples will have conceived, and couples who have not may likely have some form of infertility.

Graph

Figure 1: Adapted from Hendershot GE, et.al., Infertility and age: an unresolved issue. Family Planning Perspectives. Vol,14;5 (Sept./Oct 1982), p. 288 Ó The Alan Guttmacher Institute.

By accounting for age-related declines in egg quality and quantity, your reproductive endocrinologist can personalize your initial evaluation. Infertility is generally defined as the inability to conceive within 12 months for women under the age of 35, and within 6 months for those over the age of 35.

Making an Informed Decision: When to See a Fertility Specialist

When thinking about your fertility options, your age can empower you to take proactive steps in your family building. Women under the age of 35 who have been trying for a year (or over 35 that have been trying for 6 months), should talk with a reproductive endocrinologist.

Shady Grove Fertility’s team of highly renowned reproductive endocrinologists are available for consultations to review medical history and advise if you need a fertility evaluation. Talking with a fertility specialist can provide you with the answers you need and help you understand why getting pregnant is taking longer than expected.

Which Fertility Treatment to Consider

The outcomes of fertility treatments vary based on a woman’s age. Because the chances of success begin to decrease with age, taking the proactive step of talking to a fertility specialist as soon as you suspect a problem is important.

Chances of Getting Pregnant with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

For many women, in vitro fertilization (IVF) will likely not be their first treatment option. In fact, half of all treatment performed at Shady Grove Fertility is a more basic form of intervention called intrauterine insemination or IUI. The goal of this treatment is to increase the number of sperm that reach the Fallopian tubes and subsequently increases the chance of fertilization. IUI provides the sperm an advantage by giving it a head start, but still requires the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own.

The goal of IUI treatment is to improve the rate of conception to that of the fertile population, or roughly 15 to 20 percent per attempt. Age, along with the cause of infertility, will ultimately determine what your chances of success are per cycle of IUI.


Age
Figure 2: Intrauterine insemination pregnancy rates according to age and diagnosis (teal = ovulation disorders / PCOS, orange = unexplained and mild male factor, and grey = diminished ovarian reserve or uterine and tubal factors).

Read: Learn more about IUI

Chances of Getting Pregnant with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

IVF is one of the most widely talked about forms of fertility treatment because of its high success rates and significant technological advances. During IVF treatment, a physician will remove one or more eggs from the ovaries, which are then fertilized by sperm inside the embryology laboratory. The embryos develop, typically for 5 or 6 days, and then one or two embryos are then transferred into the uterus where implantation occurs, and a pregnancy starts.

Read: Learn more about IVF

<35 35-37 38-40 41-42 >42
Initiated Cycles 1522 974 1033 575 313
Egg Retrievals (ER) 1447 885 923 488 264
Embryo Transfers (ET) 1296 724 662 301 162
Clinical Pregnancy rate per Embryo Transfer 53.9% 49% 45.3% 37.5% 21%

Figure 3: Success rates for IVF treatment by age. Not all initiated cycles result in an embryo transfer as some cycles are canceled due to poor response to medication and others result in freezing all eggs or embryos. 2016 preliminary IVF data for Shady Grove Fertility, Rockville, MD. sart.org 

Chances of Getting Pregnant by Donor Egg Treatment

Donor egg treatment is the great equalizer. Treatment with donor eggs is the only fertility treatment option where the age of the female partner does not impact the outcome. The treatment is the same process as IVF except the egg used comes from a donor. Since donors are ages 21 to 32 and thoroughly screened, donor egg treatment is the most effective fertility treatment, with a 60 percent clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer.

Read: Learn more about Donor Egg

The Bottom Line

When trying to conceive, your age can play a big role in your chances of getting pregnant. As a result, it is important to meet with a fertility specialist in a timely manner. Starting earlier will leave more treatment options available to pursue and give you the best chances of success.

 

SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

 

To schedule a virtual consultation with Dr. Brahma or another SGF physician, please call our New Patient Center at 1-888-761-1967 or submit this brief form.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in September 2016, but was updated for accuracy in December 2020. 

References:
Zinaman MJ, Clegg ED, Brown CC, O’Connor J, Selevan SG. Estimates of human fertility and pregnancy loss. Fertil Steril. 1996; 65(3). 503–509.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Cassandra

    November 11, 2019 - 10:24 am
    Reply

    I was 41 when my 5th IVF cycle failed. Age is one of the initial indicators used to determine a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. And that’s true. I know there are women, who are 40+ and they happen to conceive without even trying… But unfortunately, the truth is it’s harder to get pregnant when you are over 40. Especially if you have some fertility issues. At birth, women will have their entire lifetime supply of eggs. As women age, the quality and quantity of those eggs begins to decrease. I know this was a reason all of my 5 cycles failed. To be honest, I truly hoped “the next one will work for sure”. Well, it didn’t. I was about to give up… Gladly I decided to try one more time. I had a cycle of mitochondrial donation, which was successful. I’m pregnant and expecting my own baby! I can’t believe it’s actually happening.

  2. Jane

    November 1, 2019 - 8:27 pm
    Reply

    My boyfriend and I will be trying to start a family soon. We are of significant age difference and we’re wondering if our age gap will make for trying for a baby harder? He’s 48 I’m 23. What are the odds of us getting pregnant?

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      January 27, 2020 - 6:00 pm
      Reply

      Hi Jane,

      Age is a key factor for female partners when trying to conceive. Women under the age of 35 and who have been trying to conceive for a year or more should contact a fertility specialist.

      Best of luck on your #TTC journey!

  3. Shelley

    September 11, 2019 - 4:12 pm
    Reply

    My husband and I are trying to have a baby im in my early 40s and he is over 70. Is there a possibility without IVF to get pregnant?

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      October 23, 2019 - 9:34 pm
      Reply

      Hi Shelley, when women are over the age of 40 and have been trying to conceive for 3 months or longer, we recommend seeing a fertility specialist. If you’d like to speak with someone about scheduling an appointment, or want to learn more about when to see a specialist, click here.

  4. Tomica Owens

    June 13, 2019 - 5:23 pm
    Reply

    I’m 41 of age and my husband 40. He have no children & I will love to be able to conceive. The issue is I had a tubalization 15 yrs ago. Do you all reverse so that we can try on our own? We was thinking heavily going with IUI.

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      July 18, 2019 - 4:37 pm
      Reply

      Hi Tomica,

      So sorry to hear about your #ttc journey. If you are considering IUI treatment, or even want to speak with a fertility specialist to get a recommendation given the procedure you had, please call 1-877-971-7755 or fill out this form. A physician will be able to tell you which treatment plan is best based on your personal health and what steps can be taken so that you and your husband can successfully conceive.

      Wishing you the best of luck!

  5. Mary

    May 29, 2019 - 1:07 pm
    Reply

    What do you do next when a couple has unexplained infertility. All testing was normal. First IUI attempt did not result in pregnancy. What is next? Age of woman is 33. Cannot afford IVF? Can a woman’s eggs be “hard” ? If sperm testing is totally normal?

    • Shady Grove Fertility

      July 18, 2019 - 4:55 pm
      Reply

      Hi Mary,

      So sorry to hear about your #ttc journey! Unexplained infertility is so difficult and because you’re testing was normal, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist. A fertility specialist will be able to provide you with a more personal treatment plan, keeping your previous IUI treatment in mind, and can advise you on next steps. In regards to your financial concerns about IVF, 90 percent of our patients have insurance coverage for the initial consultation and 70 percent have at least some form of insurance for testing and treatment. Please call 1-877-971-7755 to make an appointment or fill out this form.

      Wish you the best of luck!

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