When it comes to fertility, age is a big factor that can determine the likelihood of conception. Fertility is a measure of your capacity to produce a fertile offspring in reproduction.
As you age, your fertility decreases. At 20 your chance is 25% with every sexual encounter, 20% after 30 and only 5% at 40. After 35, the viability of your egg and sperm decreases and your chances of infertility or having offspring with genetic disorders such as Downs Syndrome increases. Additionally, the number of eggs a woman has, her follicle count and egg count (measured with an Antral follicle test and Anti- Mullerian Hormone, AMH test) and a man's sperm count (measured in sperm analysis) decreases.
So, is 37 too old to get pregnant? The answer is that it varies from person to person and that the best thing to do is to work out where you stand at 37 and proceed from there.
What Makes You Fertile?
Fertility is a female is achieved by the release of a fertile egg at day 14 of her menstrual cycle in response to GnRH (gonadotrophin releasing hormone) stimulating the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Testosterone, Progesterone and Oestrogen hormones (which triggers the egg to mature in the womb) and Luteinising hormone or LH (which triggers the release of the egg at day 14 of her menstrual cycle). If this egg meets a fertile male sperm, it will go on to implant in the womb lining, which is maintained by Progesterone, which will develop into the placenta when the egg and sperm fuse to make a zygote. The zygote is a ball of dividing cells which become an embryo which grows into a child. Oestrogen and Progesterone is needed throughout the pregnancy to maintain the pregnancy.
Infertility is therefore associated with changes to womb structure. This can be due to follicle tube blockages, cysts in the ovaries with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, growths such as fibroids or tumours or endometriosis, where the parts of the shedding womb lining grow in the wrong place. It can also be due to increased age (as increased age decreases fertility), genetics, weight (being over and underweight affects hormones) and hormone levels.
Fertility in a male is achieved by the release of a fertile sperm from the Testes in response to GnRH stimulating the release of Testosterone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising hormone or LH. LH stimulates Testosterone, FSH stimulates sperm production. The sperm is stored in the scrotum until ejaculation in sexual reproduction. Infertility is associated with low sperm count due to hormonal disturbances from being under or overweight or having nutritional deficiencies which alter the Oestrogen to Testosterone balance in the male. It is also associated with too tight or hot underwear, smoking, stress and erectile dysfunction (often as a result of diabetes mellitus).
How Can I Improve My Fertility Chances at 37?
1. Get Your Sperm or Egg Count Measured
Work out where you stand. Speak to a fertility expert and get your sperm or egg count measured (do an AF and AMH test) and if your egg count is low- freeze your eggs. If you are a female considering having a child at 37, the first thing you should do is freeze your eggs. This is because conception can take time, and the longer you leave it, the less chance you have of a viable conception. Egg freezing involves artificially stimulating the production of multiple eggs using artificial hormone injections, and then extracting these eggs and storing them under nitrous oxide, until a time when you can use them in IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) to produce a viable pregnancy. This gives you a backup if the natural route does not work. It minimises the risk of heartache from infertility.
2. Know Your Family History
Did your mum go through early menopause? If you have a close family relative with fertility problems, share this information with your medical team, as it will impact the speed at which you need to act regarding your fertility.
3. Watch Your Diet and Weight
Alcohol interferes with Oestrogen production and excess alcohol can make you overweight. Being overweight causes Oestrogen dominance (too much Oestrogen), affecting both sperm and egg count. Having too much refined fat and sugar in your diet can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes type 2 can interfere with Insulin (blood glucose monitoring hormone) production, causing Insulin resistance which increases a woman’s chance of PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can cause infertility.
Being underweight can cause insufficient body fat which is needed to make Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone, causing fertility problems. A diet rich in Iron, vitamin C (to absorb Iron you need vitamin C), B12, folate (and its synthetic form Folic acid) and protein (for growth and repair) as well as zinc can help new cell (including sperm and egg) growth and DNA and RNA (the genetic information in a cell) division (needed for new cells) and repair (helping prevent genetic diseases).
4. Try and Not Stress
If you have regrets that you didn't try for a baby earlier, changed habits such as in your lifestyle, stayed with a possible partner or freeze your eggs - these are all natural worries you may be thinking. However, don't stress - you do have options. Stress, furthermore, may impact fertility.
You are where you are now, so, you still have fertility options available. However, if you may have tried everything from IVF medical interventions, then there may be alternative options. For instance, adoption is a viable option that may change your life.
How Can GlobMed Help with Pregnancy?
We believe every person deserves the right to create life. We are a team of highly specialised medical consultants, with experience in the NHS and private care. We understand the trials and tribulations involved in fertility problems, and we do what we can to help protect fertility. With access to the best teams from around the world, we tailor our offering to each client’s needs and budget, to ensure that we help you find the most viable treatment option for your health and future. With so many options out there, we do our research, so you don’t have to, working hard to find you the best option you deserve.