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Forum Name: Fertility

Question: Delayed puberty and fertility


 tnelson23 - Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:28 am

I am 34 years old and recently considering having children. I started puberty much later than average - I started the menstrual cycle at age 17. I was tested for possible medical problems before puberty started, and all results were negative. I beleive the likely causes were genetic (my father was also a "late bloomer") and I was extremely active in sports until about age 14-15.

I've read countless article about decreased fertility and increased risk of birth defects after the age of 35. I am wondering if my delayed puberty will have some effect on fertility? Specifically I'm wondering if the delayed puberty will extend my "safe" fertility years past that for the average woman (age 35)?

Thank you for you help!
 Debbie Miller, RN - Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:33 pm

User avatar I would not expect your delayed puberty to affect your pregnancy possibility or outcome at this point. All the eggs you will ever have are present at birth so your delayed puberty does not mean younger eggs.

While there is an increased risk of some problems in pregnancies of women over age 35, it is not actually a magic year where suddenly things "break" but is rather a gradual decline in fertility and aging eggs which occur over time. Down Syndrome is probably the most significant abnormality that occurs more frequently with advanced maternal age but by total numbers, more young women deliver babies with Down Syndrome than older ones - mostly because they are having more babies generally.

Plenty of women are achieving healthy pregnancies with normal newborns into their forties. Fertility is reduced however so you may have more difficulty achieving pregnancy at this age. Your doctor may wish to monitor you more closely for high blood pressure psychological stress, preterm labor, etc.

When the desire for pregnancy occurs with quite advanced maternal age, egg donations are often used with in vitro fertilization in order to avoid her own aging eggs, which are more commonly associated with problems.

But, pregnancy can be achieved and normal babies born even without intervention. If you become pregnant naturally, there are screenings that can be done in pregnancy to determine likelihood of a serious birth defect. Keep in mind though, that these screenings are just that and not diagnostic. They just show a greater or lesser likelihood of some problems.
Additional testing can make the definitive determination.

Let us know if you have other questions.

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