You have a desire to have children and wonder how long you can realistically have them? Maybe egg freezing is an option for you? Because the most important thing for having children is the age of your eggs. I will be happy to advise you on the options for your personal family planning – whether now or in the future! Arrange a meeting with me now.
Until when can you have children? At the age of 43 a woman has only one ca. 0.5% chance of giving birth to a healthy child. Therefore, instead of doing several IVF cycles with their own eggs, more and more German women over 40 are opting for egg donation abroad.
On average, German women are 31 years old when they have their first child, in Hamburg even 33 (Destatis, 2020). With options such as social freezing, longer education periods, and increasing life expectancy, the age of parents at the birth of their first child will likely continue to rise. However, the quality of eggs decreases already strongly after the 35th week of pregnancy. Age limit for women. The age of males also plays a role, but mostly lifestyle changes help to improve sperm quality. As soon as the egg quality is poor, it can unfortunately no longer be improved, since the eggs are not constantly produced anew like sperm.
Fact: a woman’s age has a strong influence on her chances of success in getting pregnant and having a baby. Until when exactly does one have time?! In 2015, a study by Human Reproduction recommended when couples should have children. So provided that they want one (or more). More on this in the next section.
Until what age can you wait to have the number of children you want??
How many eggs does a woman have?
The decrease in fertility corresponds to the loss of eggs as a woman grows older. At birth, this number drops: from 6 to 7 million oocytes to about 1 to 2 million. During puberty or. young adult life one still has an average of 400.000 eggs per ovary.
Regardless of whether a woman uses hormonal contraception or not, one loses a certain number of eggs each month, so in the After menopause, on average only 1.000 eggs left are.
At what point do you run out of eggs?
Once you reach menopause, you have approximately only 1.000 eggs. As early as embryo age 3. During the first month in the womb of the mother, the eggs are formed in girls. Then you have about 6-7 million eggs. But already at birth, this number drops drastically and over a lifetime it steadily decreases. Most of the time, however, it is not the number of eggs one has that is the determining factor. What is much more important than the number of eggs, however, is their quality.
"Better to have fewer eggs and better quality rather than a high AMH and lots of eggs that all fail to fertilize"
Egg quality already drops sharply after age 35. Women in the second year of life. If you still want to know how large your egg reserve is, you can take an AMH test. This is the so-called. Anti-Mullerian hormone value, which can be determined at the gynecologist’s office. Just like an ultrasound image that shows how many follicles are maturing in each ovary. However, both examinations are only an indication of how many oocytes one has left approximately. They say nothing about the quality of the eggs. "Better to have fewer eggs and better quality, rather than a high AMH and lots of eggs that all fail to fertilize". I have often heard this from reproductive physicians.
How likely is it to have a baby over 40 and what is the miscarriage rate over 40?
It is now assumed that almost every tenth unintentionally childless woman in Munich uses an egg donation in order to have a child. Egg donation is a treatment option that is often a ‘plan B’ and is only done after much research and education. I specialize in family formation after egg donation and am happy to provide information on this subject. Egg donation is done when pregnancy does not occur, or many miscarriages have occurred. What many people do not know: When a woman is over 40, the miscarriage rate is approx. 50%. This means that the woman does become pregnant, but this is not followed by a live birth, but by the physically, mentally and emotionally extremely stressful experience of miscarriage.
But here are some figures on pregnancy over 40 and the associated miscarriage rate: "Increasing age (of the woman) not only leads to a reduction in fertility by reducing the quality of the eggs and the receptivity of the uterus, and by reducing female hormones (Tufan et al., 2004; Baird et al., 2005), but also to other chronic health conditions (such as diabetes and hypertension), which may complicate pregnancy (Tufan et al., 2004; Alshami et al., 2010). As a woman ages, the fertility rate in the general population declines from 400 pregnancies per 1000 married women aged<30 years to 100 per 1000 married women aged 45 years and older (Menken et al., 1986; Heffner, 2004). The miscarriage rate increases with age … to over 50% in women aged 40 years or older (Nybo Andersen et al., 2000)."
Further, "as a woman ages (…) the fertility rate in the general population decreases from 400 pregnancies per 1000 married women aged<30 years to 100 per 1000 married women aged 45 years and older (Menken et al., 1986; Heffner, 2004). The miscarriage rate increases with age from 13% in women in their 20s and early 30s to>50% in women aged 40 or older (Nybo Andersen et al., 2000)." Source in each case: Human Reproduction, 2012, Donor age is a major determinant of success of oocyte donation/recipient program.
How important is the age of the man in having children?
The age of the man also plays an important role if you want to have children. But if sperm quality is a problem, improvements in the man’s lifestyle usually help to improve sperm quality. So: less alcohol consumption, more exercise, healthier diet, no smoking, no sauna sessions, no hot baths and heated seats, etc.
However, once the egg quality is poor, unfortunately it cannot be improved anymore. This is because eggs are not constantly being produced like sperm are. Sperm renew themselves ca. Every 72 days. The eggs, on the other hand, are in the woman’s body from birth (and are even produced before birth!). They remain there and age over the years. When you are 41, your own eggs are ca. 41.5 years old.
There are now also many ways to find and use "good sperm" using certain techniques. For example, PISCI and MACS. These are all abbreviations for techniques in which sperm are found and selected according to certain criteria. The aim is that a single good sperm fertilizes one egg at a time by means of ICSI. Just like the woman, where ONE good egg is needed, the man needs only ONE good sperm.
Sperm cells also age – and this can have consequences for the child
However, there are now indications that an increased age of the man can be associated with risks during pregnancy and childbirth. For example, at the Congress of Endocrinology, a British study reported, "Father age 45 years and older was associated with a significantly higher risk of preterm birth as well as low birth weight compared with the reference age of 25-34 years. The children of the oldest fathers also required respiratory support after birth significantly more often and had to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit more often."
It goes on to explain: "The widespread assumption that sperm do not age is outdated. Recent research shows: Male germ cells are also subject to aging processes. Studies indicate that sperm DNA can be damaged over the years. The consequence: the risk of malformations and developmental disorders of the offspring. Likewise, partners are more likely to suffer complications of their pregnancy." (Press release, Endocrinology.net, 2019).
IVF with MACS to select healthy sperm without DNA fragmentation
MACS (Magnetic Activated Cell Sorting) is an immuno-magnetic technique used to select those sperm in IVF treatment that do not show signs of DNA fragmentation, cell damage, or cell death (also Apoptosis called). A standard spermiogram says nothing about the quality of the sperm, only about their number, movement and appearance. Therefore MACS can be a useful way to help especially older men to select healthy sperms. Questions about so-called "add-ons" in an IVF? You are welcome to contact me and book a consultation.
When is one "too old" to have children?
From a biological point of view, it becomes more difficult for women to have children after they reach their mid-30s. From 40 the probability then drops very strongly. And already from the age of 40, adoption is no longer an option for women in Germany (for men the age is 45). Intercountry adoption and foster children remain alternatives after 40. Of course, the latter are paths that many couples take even without age pressure or infertility.
So women and men in Germany will get older and older on average before they try to have children. Thus, the number of couples who may not succeed on their own due to increased age is also increasing. Contrary to the media portrayal, it is less the focus on career than the problem of finding the right partner that contributes to the increasing age. It is assumed that by now more than every 10. Couple in Germany is involuntarily childless. A fertility treatment can help here: In vitro fertilization, i.e. the artificial insemination of eggs with sperm in a Petri dish. If it does not work even with a simple IVF, because the quality of eggs or sperm is poor, donated eggs, sperm or embryos can help (more here).
What to do when you are (biologically) too old to have children? Is there an age limit for infertility treatments?
The age limit for infertility treatments and IVF is usually 45 years old (age of the woman). In some countries, such as Spain, England, Estonia and the USA, it is possible to have children up to the average age of 50. Or. there the maximum age is determined by the individual centers.
In Germany, the donation of eggs and embryos is prohibited, but the donation of sperm is allowed. If, for example, the quality of the eggs is no longer sufficient for reasons of age, egg donation can help. Because of the ban, every year several thousand German women and couples travel abroad to become pregnant and have a child with the help of an egg or embryo donation.
Of course, it must also be mentioned at this point that with increasing age of the woman and the man, a slight increase in health risks for the pregnancy and the child may accompany. Gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes are a few examples.
Summary: Those who wish to have children must know that age plays a major role in the desire to have children
Finally, it should be noted that the initial question of the article is provocative. Especially the answers to the question "Until when can one or woman have children??"Of course, this does not only depend on biology! It also depends on the following aspects: life experience, life reality, life expectations; biological, genetic, mental, social and financial circumstances. Beyond that, of course, there should be no expectation that one should have children at all. There are many ways to make your life happy.
However, there are people for whom the desire to have children is so strong that alternative options such as egg donation can help them have the family they want, even if, for example, their own eggs no longer cooperate. This article is intended to inform and educate, and also to help gain a realistic view of one’s own fertility.