What is the best age to get pregnant?

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Ritual with coconut leaves during traditional Hindu wedding ceremony

Medically speaking, the odds of getting pregnant in your late 20s are the same as they were in your early 20s, and the lifestyle pros and cons aren’t much different either. But you do have more wisdom, and patience.

Age 30 to 34

“Once you hit your 30s, particularly 35 and beyond, we do start seeing a diminution in fertility—but that’s not an absolute,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University. “If you are still quite busy with establishing a career, or haven’t found the perfect partner, you shouldn’t be pushed into getting pregnant just to have a child. However, you also need to take into account how many kids you want.”

In terms of pros, getting pregnant in your early 30s gives you a significant amount of time to enjoy your young adult years, explore your career, and get to know yourself.

Age 35 to 39

Fertility starts to decline substantially at 32, and this speeds up at 37. The same goes for the success rates of those undergoing infertility treatments such as IVF, says Dr. Goodall McDonald. “Health risks also start to rise, like hypertension, diabetes in pregnancy, and preeclampsia, as well as rates of chromosomal abnormalities.” Women in this age range should speak to their gynecologist about conceiving and consult with a reproductive endocrinology specialist after six months of trying.

Age 40 to 45

By age 40, a healthy person’s chances of becoming pregnant every month are less than 5%. Medical risks are another issue: People over 40 have an increase in early pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, says Anate Brauer, M.D., the IVF director at Shady Grove Fertility in New York City. They are also more likely to suffer from preeclampsia, diabetes, placenta previa, low birth weight, and preterm labor, with a higher rate of fetal demise. The risks increase further if they have pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. People undergoing fertility treatments are more likely to get pregnant with multiples, and that, too, amplifies risk. It seems there’s really no right answer to the question, “When is the best age to get pregnant?” Biologically, the answer is probably your early 20s, but this journey is highly personal and everyone is different. The best approach is to do what feels right for you—whatever that may be.

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