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How old can a woman still get pregnant
Having a Baby After Age 35: How Aging Affects Fertility and Pregnancy
A woman’s peak reproductive years are between the late teens and late 20s. By age 30, fertility (the ability to get pregnant) starts to decline. This decline becomes more rapid once you reach your mid-30s. By 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely for most women.
Women begin life with a fixed number of eggs in their ovaries. The number of eggs decreases as women get older. Also, the remaining eggs in older women are more likely to have abnormal chromosomes. And as women age, they are at higher risk of disorders that can affect fertility, such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
For healthy couples in their 20s and early 30s, around 1 in 4 women will get pregnant in any single menstrual cycle. By age 40, around 1 in 10 women will get pregnant per menstrual cycle. A man’s fertility also declines with age, but not as predictably.
Women who get pregnant later in life have a higher risk of complications. For example, pregnant women over 40 have an increased risk of preeclampsia. Pregnancy later in life also can affect the health of the fetus.
Older women tend to have more health problems than younger women. For example, high blood pressure is more common in older people. Having high blood pressure before pregnancy can increase the risk of preeclampsia. But studies also show that older women who do not have any health conditions can still have complicated pregnancies.
The overall risk of having a baby with a chromosome abnormality is small. But as a woman ages, the risk of having a baby with missing, damaged, or extra chromosomes increases.
Down syndrome (trisomy 21) is the most common chromosome problem that occurs with later childbearing. The risk of having a pregnancy affected by Down syndrome is
Learn about tests that look for genetic disorders:
Prenatal screening tests assess the risk that a pregnancy will be affected by a specific birth defect or genetic disorder. Screening can be done before and during pregnancy.
Prenatal diagnostic tests can detect if a pregnancy is affected by a specific birth defect or genetic disorder.
Both screening and diagnostic testing are offered to all pregnant women. You don’t have to be a certain age or have a family history of a disorder to have these tests. It is your choice whether you want to have them done. Talk with your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) about genetic testing options so you can make a choice that’s right for you.
The risks of miscarriage and stillbirth are greater in women who are older than 35. Also, multiple pregnancy is more common in older women than in younger women. As the ovaries age, they are more likely to release more than one egg each month.
Also, some fertility treatments increase the chance of a multiple pregnancy. Although multiple pregnancies can be healthy, these pregnancies can increase the risk of preterm birth.
All women should think about whether they would like to have children and, if so, when to have them. This is called a reproductive life plan. If you would like to have children someday, your plan can be a simple statement like, “I would like to finish school and have more money saved before having children” or “I would like to have children in my 20s when my chances for a healthy pregnancy are best.” Talking with your ob-gyn can help you develop your reproductive life plan. The next step is to put your plan into action.
If you don’t want to get pregnant and have a male partner, use a birth control method to prevent pregnancy. Make sure you are using a method that fits your reproductive goals, your lifestyle, and any health conditions that you have. Together you and your ob-gyn can review your birth control options.
If you want to get pregnant soon, you should try to be as healthy as possible before pregnancy. Take steps to stop using alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. You also should start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs).
This is a visit with your ob-gyn that helps you plan for a pregnancy. During this visit, your ob-gyn should review your medical history, your family history, any past pregnancies, and any medications you take. You also should review immunizations to be sure that you have all of the vaccines that are recommended for you. You and your ob-gyn also may talk about
your diet and lifestyle
how you can maintain a healthy weight before getting pregnant
recommended screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
the option of carrier screening for you and, if needed, your partner
All women should talk with their ob-gyns before trying to get pregnant, but it’s especially important for women older than 35.
It is a good idea to talk about your plan once a year with your ob-gyn. Ask yourself whether you would like to have children in the next year. If your answer is yes, you can take steps for a healthy pregnancy. If your answer is no, you can make sure that you are using a reliable birth control method.
Currently, there is no medical technique that can guarantee fertility will be preserved. If you know that you want to have children later in life, one option may be in vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF, sperm is combined with a woman’s eggs in a laboratory. If the sperm fertilizes the eggs, embryos may grow.
Embryos can be frozen and used many years later. When you are ready, an embryo can be transferred to your uterusto try to achieve a pregnancy. The chance that IVF will work for you depends on many factors, including your health and your age when the embryos are frozen.
Talking with a fertility expert will help you understand your chances of success with IVF. Also, there are financial considerations. Some IVF treatments are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.
A procedure called oocyte cryopreservation—“freezing your eggs”—has become more popular in recent years. In this procedure, several eggs are removed from the ovaries. The unfertilized eggs are then frozen for later use in IVF.
Egg freezing may seem like a good option for women who want to delay childbearing. But egg freezing is recommended mainly for women having cancer treatment that will affect their future fertility. There is not enough research to recommend routine egg freezing for the sole purpose of putting off childbearing. Egg freezing also is expensive and may not be covered by insurance.
If you are older than 35 and have not gotten pregnant after 6 months of having regular sex without using birth control, talk with your ob-gyn about an infertility evaluation. If you are older than 40, an evaluation is recommended before you try to get pregnant. This advice is especially true if you have a problem that could affect fertility, such as endometriosis.
During an evaluation, you have physical exams and tests to try to find the cause of infertility. If a cause is found, treatment may be possible. In many cases, infertility can be successfully treated even if no cause is found. But the chances of success with these treatments decline with age. See Evaluating Infertility for more information.
Getting early and regular prenatal care may increase your chances of having a healthy baby. At each visit, your health and your fetus’s health should be monitored. If you have a preexisting medical condition or if a medical condition develops during pregnancy, you may need to see your ob-gyn more often. Regular prenatal care can help your ob-gyn find problems sooner and take steps to help manage them.
Carrier Screening: A test done on a person without signs or symptoms to find out whether he or she carries a gene for a genetic disorder.
Chromosomes:Structures that are located inside each cell in the body. They contain the genes that determine a person’s physical makeup.
Complications: Diseases or conditions that happen as a result of another disease or condition. An example is pneumonia that occurs as a result of the flu. A complication also can occur as a result of a condition, such as pregnancy. An example of a pregnancy complication is preterm labor.
Diagnostic Tests: Tests that look for a disease or cause of a disease.
Down Syndrome (Trisomy 21):A genetic disorder that causes abnormal features of the face and body, medical problems such as heart defects, and mental disability. Most cases of Down syndrome are caused by an extra chromosome 21 (trisomy 21).
Eggs: The female reproductive cells made in and released from the ovaries. Also called the ova.
Embryos: The stage of prenatal development that starts at fertilization (joining of an egg and sperm) and lasts up to 8 weeks.
Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue that lines the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.
Fetus: The stage of human development beyond 8 completed weeks after fertilization.
Fibroids: Growths that form in the muscle of the uterus. Fibroids usually are noncancerous.
Folic Acid: A vitamin that reduces the risk of certain birth defects when taken before and during pregnancy.
Genetic Disorders: Disorders caused by a change in genes or chromosomes.
High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure above the normal level. Also called hypertension.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): A procedure in which an egg is removed from a woman’s ovary, fertilized in a laboratory with the man’s sperm, and then transferred to the woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy.
Menstrual Cycle: The monthly process of changes that occur to prepare a woman’s body for possible pregnancy. A menstrual cycle is defined as the first day of menstrual bleeding of one cycle to the first day of menstrual bleeding of the next cycle.
Miscarriage: Loss of a pregnancy that is in the uterus.
Multiple Pregnancy:A pregnancy where there are two or more fetuses.
Neural Tube Defects (NTDs): Birth defects that result from a problem in development of the brain, spinal cord, or their coverings.
Obstetrician–Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn): A doctor with special training and education in women’s health.
Oocyte Cryopreservation: A procedure in which eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries and frozen for later use with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Ovaries: Organs in women that contain the eggs necessary to get pregnant and make important hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Preeclampsia: A disorder that can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth in which there is high blood pressure and other signs of organ injury. These signs include an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, a low number of platelets, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, fluid in the lungs, or a severe headache or changes in vision.
Prenatal Care: A program of care for a pregnant woman before the birth of her baby.
Preterm:Less than 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Screening Tests: Tests that look for possible signs of disease in people who do not have signs or symptoms.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Infections that are spread by sexual contact. Infections include chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).
Sperm: A cell made in the male testicles that can fertilize a female egg.
Stillbirth: Birth of a dead fetus.
Uterus: A muscular organ in the female pelvis. During pregnancy, this organ holds and nourishes the fetus. Also called the womb.
Vaccines: Substances that help the body fight disease. Vaccines are made from very small amounts of weak or dead agents that cause disease (bacteria, toxins, and viruses).
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Published: October 2020
Last reviewed: December 2021
Copyright 2022 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.
This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.
What’s Ideal and What Are the Risks?
Childbearing Age: What’s Ideal and What Are the Risks?
Medically reviewed by Holly Ernst, PA-C — By Stephanie Watson on June 6, 2018
What’s the childbearing age?
Technically, women 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.
Your fertility naturally declines as you get older, which could make it harder for you to conceive. And starting a family later in life could pose greater risks for pregnancy complications.
Experts say the best time to get pregnant is between your late 20s and early 30s. This age range is associated with the best outcomes for both you and your baby. One study pinpointed the ideal age to give birth to a first child as 30.5.
Your age is just one factor that should go into your decision to get pregnant. You also need to consider your emotional and financial readiness to start a family. That timing is unique for each woman.
How does age affect fertility?
Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have — about 2 million of them. Your number of eggs gradually falls over the years.
By age 37, you’ll have about 25,000 eggs left. By age 51, you’ll only have 1,000 eggs left. That might still sound like a lot of eggs, but the quality of your eggs also goes down as you age.
Your risk for developing conditions that can negatively impact fertility, like endometriosis and tubal disease, also increases as you get older.
Because of these factors, your fertility begins to gradually decline at around age 32. Starting between 35 and 37, fertility begins to drop more quickly.
Your chance of getting pregnant decreases as you get older. After three months of trying, your odds of conceiving in during your next cycle are:
18 percent at age 25
16 percent at age 30
12 percent at age 35
7 percent at age 40
Other factors may reduce your chances of getting pregnant, including:
cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy
What are the benefits of getting pregnant at certain ages?
Women in the United States are waiting longer than ever to get pregnant. The average age of first-time moms is nearly 27, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Birth rates have risen among women in their 30s and dropped among those in their 20s.
Benefits of delaying starting a family
Waiting to start a family can have some benefits. You’ll have more time to save up money, establish your relationship, and become more financially secure for your child.
Age can also bring wisdom and patience. And there’s some evidence that children born to older parents achieve higher levels of education.
Holding off on pregnancy might have advantages for you, as well. A 2012 study suggested that women who gave birth to their last or only child at age 40 or older had a lower risk for uterine cancer.
Benefits of having children at a younger age
Being a younger mother is more beneficial to your baby’s health. Your odds of conceiving are increased in your late 20s or early 30s. Getting pregnant during this time also reduces your chances of having a pregnancy complication.
Risks of getting pregnant at age 35 and older
Starting at age 35, these pregnancy risks become more common:
high blood pressure
need for a cesarean delivery
heavy bleeding after delivery
infant low birth weight
chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome
When should you see a doctor for fertility questions?
Fertility issues are very common. More than 12 percent of women have difficulties getting pregnant. If you haven’t been able to get pregnant, a fertility specialist can do tests to see why you’re not conceiving and offer treatments to improve your odds of a pregnancy.
See a fertility specialist if:
You’re age 35 or younger and you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year.
You’re over age 35 and you’ve been trying for more than 6 months.
You’re over age 40 and you’d like to start a family.
The fertility treatment your doctor recommends depends on factors like the cause of your fertility issues, your age, and your preferences. Options include:
fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation
surgery to fix a uterine condition, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or blocked fallopian tubes
intrauterine insemination, where sperm is placed directly into your uterus during ovulation
in vitro fertilization, where sperm and egg are placed together in a lab until they form an embryo, which is then implanted into your uterus
zygote intrafallopian transfer and gamete intrafallopian transfer, where the sperm and egg or a fertilized egg is placed into your fallopian tube
Tips for conception
If you’re ready to start trying for a baby, here are a few things you can do to help make parenthood a reality:
Get to a healthy weight. An ideal body mass index is between 19 and 24. Being overweight or underweight can affect your ability to ovulate.
Quit smoking. Smoking can damage your egg supply and make you more likely to miscarry if you do get pregnant.
Watch your diet. Eating a high-fat diet can contribute to weight gain and disrupt your reproductive cycle.
Limit caffeine and alcohol. Research has linked excess amounts of caffeine (more than two or three cups of coffee daily) with miscarriage. Frequent alcohol use can prolong the time it takes you to get pregnant and is harmful to fetal development.
You can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by following these tips:
Treat any conditions that could make pregnancy risky, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
See your obstetrician for a preconception visit to make sure you’re healthy enough to get pregnant. Then, keep up with all of your scheduled pregnancy visits. Seeing you regularly will let your doctor monitor your and your baby’s health and address any problems that arise.
Take good care of your body. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol, follow a healthy eating plan, exercise often, and get enough sleep.
You’ll have the best odds of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby if you start trying in your 20s or 30s, but that scenario isn’t right for every woman. When deciding to start a family, you also need to consider whether you’re:
in a solid relationship or have the support system to have a child on your own
ready to temporarily put your career on hold
financially secure enough to support a child
If you have any concerns about your ability to get pregnant, see your gynecologist or visit a fertility specialist.
Last medically reviewed on June 6, 2018
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Alcohol and fertility. (n.d.). yourfertility.org.au/for-women/alcohol-and-fertility/
Barclay K. (2016). Advanced maternal age and offspring outcomes: Reproductive aging and counterbalancing period trends. DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2016.00105.x
Births and natality. (2017). cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm
Births in the United States, 2016. (2017). cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db287.htm
Dietl A, et al. (2015). Pregnancy and obstetrical outcomes in women over 40 years of age. DOI: 10.1055/s-0035-1546109
Lyngsø J, et al. (2017). Association between coffee or caffeine consumption and fecundity and fertility: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. DOI: 10.2147/CLEP.S146496
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Infertility. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354322
Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. (n.d.). menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal
Mirowsky J. (2002). Parenthood and health: The pivotal and optimal age at first birth. DOI: 10.1353/sof.2002.0055
Periods. (2016). nhs.uk/conditions/periods
Setiawan VW, et al. (2012). Age at last birth in relation to risk of endometrial cancer: pooled analysis in the epidemiology of endometrial cancer consortium. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kws129
Sozou PD. (2012). Time to pregnancy: A computational method for using the duration of non-conception for predicting conception. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046544
When to see a fertility specialist. (n.d.). fertility.womenandinfants.org/services/see-fertility-specialist
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Medically reviewed by Holly Ernst, PA-C — By Stephanie Watson on June 6, 2018
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How a woman's reproductive age affects the conception of a healthy child
Contents of the page
Get ready to get answers to these important questions. You will also learn about the features associated with the process of conception for women of different ages.
Women 20-24 years old
The age from 20 to 24 years is the best period for pregnancy. At this age, 90% of the eggs are genetically normal, and it is this fact that affects the conception of a healthy child. The probability of conceiving a healthy baby at this age and within a year of regular sexual activity is 96%.
Here it is important to note that high chances of conception, unfortunately, do not always lead to the birth of a healthy child. The thing is that young people are less responsible for preparation and pregnancy, so some risk factors leading to complications during pregnancy are ignored. For example: bad habits, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency.
Therefore, it is important to have appropriate examinations at any age in order to feel confident in terms of health and not jeopardize the health of the unborn baby.
25-29 years old
Between the ages of 25 and 29, the chances of getting pregnant within a year of sexual activity are 86%, and the chances of miscarriage are no more than 10%.
Of course, you need to carefully prepare for pregnancy, monitor your health, nutrition, weight and avoid stress. We wrote about this above and are ready to repeat it every time when it comes to planning a pregnancy.
But, as a rule, if you are under 30 and you carefully monitor your health when planning a pregnancy, you have every chance to conceive healthy children.
30-34 years old
At the age of 35 years, the probability of conceiving a child is still high and is also 86%. But, unfortunately, the probability of miscarriage increases and is approximately 20%.
In addition, after the age of 30, many women develop chronic diseases that can negatively affect pregnancy.
When preparing for pregnancy at this age, it is most important to pay attention to your health. If conception does not occur after 12 months of active sexual activity, it is necessary to consult a reproductive specialist.
35-39 years old
Is it possible to get pregnant after 35 years? This question is not just so worried about many women. The fact is that female fertility begins to decline rapidly after 35 years.
Despite this, there are chances of getting pregnant after 35 years. The probability of conception during the year is 78%.
However, let's talk about the decline in female fertility. Such a process in the female body is the main reason for the increased risk of transmission of chromosomal disorders, which negatively affect the viability of the egg and embryo. This phenomenon is due to the fact that the egg contains less energy to be able to correctly distribute the genetic material and provide, at the expense of its energy, the early stages of development and implantation of the embryo. Therefore, the likelihood of conception of an embryo with chromosomal abnormalities (for example, Down syndrome) increases. We will talk more about chromosomal abnormalities in our next articles.
We would like to emphasize again that if you take your health responsibly and undergo the correct examination during the period of preparation for pregnancy, consult a reproductive specialist, many disorders during pregnancy can simply be prevented.
If you are aged 35-39 and are trying to get pregnant, we do not recommend that you wait the full 12 months. Do not waste time, because. at this age, every month counts, and if you have not been able to get pregnant for six months, you should contact a specialist and go through all the necessary tests.
40 to 44
Between the ages of 40 and 44, a woman may only ovulate a few times in 12 months as the body's egg supply and production of estrogen and progesterone decline. The probability of getting pregnant at this age is very small, but this does not mean that conception after 40 is impossible at all.
The main thing is to correctly approach pregnancy planning. Of course, it is better not to postpone such an important event for a long time. And this is not only our recommendation, but also the recommendation of all the leading reproductologists in the world.
Pregnancy is wonderful, and planning, conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby is undoubtedly the best and most important event in the life of every woman. And if you approach this process as responsibly as possible, regularly undergo medical examinations, lead a healthy lifestyle and periodically take vitamins that are important for the female body, you will definitely have healthy and happy children.
Remember, women's reproductive age has its limits, but cases of infertility are correctable. If you cannot conceive naturally, modern and effective reproductive technologies that are used in the Reprolife Medical Center will help you. Among them: ICSI, PGT-A (NGS), PGT-M, PGT-SR, TESA.
Our team of professionals specializes in the treatment of all forms of infertility and comprehensive pregnancy management. We will take care of the birth of healthy children in your family!
Until what age can you get pregnant - the likelihood of conception, infertility
What do you know about your reproductive health? It turns out that there is a big difference between what most people say about this and the actual biological facts. This conclusion was made by researchers from the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ) after a survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 to 40 years, conducted in March 2016.
Thus, 57% of respondents said that a woman's "biological clock" "stops" at the age of 44. This is partly true: only some 44-year-old women can become pregnant naturally. But in fact, fertility declines over the course of 20 years, almost throughout adulthood, especially after 35 years.
If before the age of 31, three quarters of women can become pregnant within a year, after 35 years - only half. At 44, this figure drops to 1-5%, and only in 2% of cases the child will receive completely normal chromosomes from the mother.
"Biological clock" that stops "ticking" is not quite a correct comparison, but, indeed, the fact is that the chances of pregnancy in women after 40 years of age are greatly reduced.
Other similar surveys have been conducted in the past. For example, researchers at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK asked 1,000 young men and women aged 16 to 24 about fertility. More than 80% of respondents claimed that female reproductive function begins to decline only after the age of 35, which, as we have already noted, is actually not the case: the decline begins much earlier, it just increases strongly by the age of 35. Among young people, 25% said that female fertility decreases only after the age of 40; among girls, 16% gave a similar answer.
Another 2016 survey by the Fertility Centers of Illinois found that among women aged 25-45 who had never given birth, less than half (48%) understood that the chances of having a child decreased with age, the risk increased abortion and chromosomal abnormalities.
If we turn to the results of earlier studies, we will see that over the past few years, people's opinion about the effect of age on the state of reproductive function has changed little.
In 2011, experts from the biopharmaceutical company EMD Serono assessed the fertility knowledge of 1,010 women aged 25 to 35 who had never planned or become pregnant before. Many of them wanted to have a child after 30, and 73% of those surveyed rated their chances as higher than is the case in reality. At the age of 35-44, every fourth woman experiences problems with conception, while up to 30 years - only every tenth. Researchers from EMD Serono noted that only a third of the respondents correctly indicated age as an important factor influencing fertility. Many hoped that as soon as they want to have a baby, it will happen in the first month with a probability of 10-40%. In fact, this figure is only 10%.
In addition, the respondents strongly overestimated the possibilities of in vitro fertilization. They said that after IVF, pregnancy will occur with a probability of 50-59%, although in reality the effectiveness of the method ranges from 20 to 29%. Many respondents did not know that the “age” of the egg also plays an important role. 54% of women were confident that IVF would help them get pregnant, regardless of the age at which their eggs were retrieved.
Where do women get such erroneous knowledge about their reproductive health? How many discuss these issues with gynecologists? It turns out that not all.
In the RMANJ survey, only 26% of women said they had talked to their gynecologists about the effect of age on fertility. Nearly half (42%) of the women who experienced infertility reported that gynecologists had never talked to them about fertility.
Researchers at EMD Serono got similar results. 52% of women did not have conversations with gynecologists about their plans for pregnancy in the future, 78% - about age as a factor affecting fertility, 89-96% - about infertility treatment methods.
And this is not because women themselves do not want such conversations. In a survey by the Illinois Fertility Center, 89% of respondents agreed that gynecologists should talk to patients about reproductive health and infertility, 52% of women 35 and older said they would change their pregnancy plans if they knew that with age, the chances on its offensive are reduced.
Why don't gynecologists talk about this with their patients?
Experts note that doctors often simply do not have time, but this is not the only reason. The topic of fertility and infertility is highly stigmatized. Many doctors are uncomfortable discussing this with their patients. And the woman herself often cannot ask the right questions, because she does not have the necessary information.
Some modern experts believe that fertility issues should be discussed with girls starting in high school. For example, the chairman of the British Fertility Society (British Fertility Society) Adam Balen openly advocates the concept of "choice, not chance.