I’m 27 and I’ve been dating my boyfriend for three years. He just told me he’s not sure if he wants kids or not– we’ve never really talked about it. When I thought about it I realized I’m not sure either. How long until we have to decide? Is waiting until 35 a big deal?”
For most women, fertility — meaning how easy it is to get pregnant, and then to stay pregnant until a baby is born– peaks in their early 20’s, and then begins to decline a little bit with every cycle.
Thirty-five is not a magic age, it’s just cited a lot because it’s the point where the risk of complications from testing via amnio (1 in 250) is equal to the risk of having a child with Down syndrome (also 1 in 250). So doctors used to suggest amnio for women over 35. These days, health care providers will more often tend to offer a “menu” of tests to women of all ages. A multiple-marker blood test in early pregnancy will be able to give you a risk ratio based on measures of protein in your blood, your age and ultrasound measurements.
Between 35 and 40 most women not using any kind of birth control will have only about a 10 percent chance of conceiving every month, with about a 30 percent chance of miscarriage. By 40, the risk of miscarriage goes up to 50 percent, and you also have higher odds for a stillborn baby.
So bottom line, there’s no deadline for when to have a baby, but waiting could make it more difficult for pregnancy to happen. Ask yourself, how much risk are you willing to take on? How many children do you want to have? Ten years from now would you be happy with kids or not? Tough questions that only you and your partner can answer.