Trying to Conceive at Age 36

We have begun a new column where our readers can write in with their questions. We’ll field the questions to one or more experts in the subject and post the responses typically within 2 weeks. Write Us with Your Question!

 

 Q: I’m 36, healthy and trying to get pregnant for the first time. How long should my husband and I expect it to take to conceive on our own? When should we seek a medical consultation and with whom?

Natalie Burger, M.D.

Natalie Burger, M.D.

Response from Natalie Burger, M.D., Texas Fertility Center:

A: Women in their mid-30s who are trying for pregnancy generally have a 10-15% chance of conceiving each month.  Approximately 80% of couples will be able to conceive within the first year.  However, if there has been no success for many months, the overall chance of pregnancy per month begins to decline – to even 1-2% after a full year of trying.

Women over the age of 35 should consider seeking fertility evaluation if they have been trying for 6 or more months for pregnancy without success.  As fertility significantly declines after the mid-30s, it is especially important for those 35 and older to seek prompt fertility evaluation to maximize the chances of success.

A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have.  During her life, she will continue to lose eggs (both through the process of ovulation as well as through a process called apoptosis – or programmed cell death).  The eggs that remain continue to deteriorate in quality.  It is especially important to keep an eye on ovarian health as a woman approaches her mid-30s and beyond.

Some women will seek initial guidance from an obstetrician/gynecologist (a.k.a. OBGYN).  Many OBGYNs are quite comfortable performing basic fertility evaluations and some types of fertility treatment.

Reproductive endocrinologists (REs) are OBGYNs who have undergone 3 years of additional specialization in fertility.   They are able to handle all types of fertility treatments – from very basic to very complex.  Oftentimes OBGYNs will refer patients to an RE if the basic testing is abnormal and/or if the basic treatments are not working.  Some patients prefer to start off with an RE so that they are able to have access to full fertility evaluation/treatment from the start.

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