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Pavna Brahma

Aging and fertility: What a fertility expert wants you to know

“We are seeing a societal trend in child bearing,” says Pavna Brahma, M.D., a fertility expert at Piedmont Hospital. “We are seeing that women are delaying [having children].” Dr. Brahma says this trend could be because women are focusing on their education and career during their twenties and early thirties, or finding their life partner and getting married later in life.

How fertility is impacted by age

Women are born with a finite number of eggs and this number decreases as they age. “As we age, our ovaries tend to age also,” she says. “The biological clock then advances. That changes the number of eggs both from a quantity standpoint, as well as a quality standpoint.”

To improve their chance of becoming pregnant despite a decreasing number of eggs, women are looking at treatments such as egg donation.

Popularity of donor eggs

In the media, we see more celebrities in their forties and even older becoming pregnant and having children. Dr. Brahma says donor eggs play a role in these women getting pregnant later in life. “The vast majority of those situations involve a donated egg,” she says.

During this process, women use a donated egg from a woman in her twenties, which is the peak time for a woman’s fertility. “The egg is then fertilized by the partner’s sperm and is deposited into the woman’s uterus,” says Dr. Brahma. “These stars are carrying and delivering the child on their own, but the genetic material of the egg is coming from a much younger donor.”

When to see a fertility expert

If a couple is concerned about their fertility, Dr. Brahma says there are several ways to approach the issue. “In general, if a couple would ever like to meet with us and get information about their fertility status, we are always open to that," she says.

If a woman is over the age of 35 and she has been trying without success to get pregnant for six months or longer, Dr. Brahma recommends that she and her partner see a fertility expert to learn their fertility status and possible treatment options.

Dr. Brahma’s key message for women and their partners:

“Women all have progression of the biological clock over time,” she says. “The knowledge and awareness of that allows us to make important decisions to seek help, treatment and evaluation when it’s necessary. Keeping that in mind when we think about our child-bearing years is really important.”

As Dr. Brahma notes, women and their partners are more commonly waiting until later in life to have children. Women in their thirties and forties have more treatment options than ever when it comes to fertility and pregnancy. If you are concerned about your fertility or would like to know more about your options, consider meeting with a fertility specialist.

Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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