Why Age Plays a Role in Pregnancy

Why Age Plays a Role in Pregnancy

In recent years, it’s become increasingly popular for women to get pregnant later in life. It’s no longer an expectation for women to become mothers right out of school or in their early 20s. These days it’s much more acceptable for women to put their careers or life experiences before having children.

While women should feel empowered to have children whenever they feel is best for them, it’s important to know how age affects pregnancy. It’s more than just wondering if you’ll have the energy to keep up with your kids later in life. In this blog, we discuss how age affects pregnancy and why.

Age and fertility

For women, their peak reproductive years fall between their late teens and late 20s. That might sound early, but women are most fertile within these years. This is because women start with a certain number of eggs in their ovaries, and as they age, their number of eggs decreases. The eggs that remain later in life are at higher risk of having abnormal chromosomes, which can lead to birth defects or make the eggs less viable in general.

After age 35, a woman’s ability to get pregnant decreases every year due to hormone changes and having fewer eggs. As your hormone levels fall, there are physical changes that occur in your reproductive system. These changes can include vaginal dryness, loss of elasticity, and thinner vaginal walls. Additionally, older women have a higher risk of developing disorders that affect fertility, like endometriosis, tubal disease, or uterine fibroids

Age and pregnancy risks

Women who are young teenagers or over the age of 35 are considered to have high-risk pregnancies. If you’re over 35, it’s important to know what you’re at risk for if you’re able to get pregnant.

High blood pressure

Older women are more likely to develop high blood pressure during their pregnancy. This can cause issues for you and your baby if your blood pressure isn’t closely monitored. Complications can include early delivery, placental abruption, stroke, preeclampsia, and eclampsia.

Gestational diabetes

This type of diabetes develops only during pregnancy and is more common in older women. If left untreated, your baby can inherit the risk of premature birth, growing larger than the average size, and having complications during and after birth. Gestational diabetes can also cause high blood pressure.

C-section

As you age, you’re more likely to run into a complication during pregnancy that necessitates a C-section. One example of this is placenta previa, a condition in which your placenta blocks your cervix. Although C-sections are generally safe, any surgery comes with its own risks.

Pregnancy loss

Unfortunately, the risk of losing your baby by miscarriage or stillbirth increases with age. This is likely due to chromosomal abnormalities combined with pre-existing medical conditions. Chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes can contribute to this risk as well.

No matter what age you’re trying to start your family, our healthcare professionals at Park Avenue Obstetrics and Gynecology PC are here for you every step of the way. To schedule a family planning or prenatal care appointment, contact our Glendale, Arizona office today.

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