Is 30+ ‘Too Late’ for Motherhood?

Chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said “she is concerned” about women choosing to delay motherhood until their mid 30s and beyond.  Her comments follow evidence that levels of childlessness in British women over 40 have reached a peak since the 1960s.  The average age of a woman in the UK giving birth is now 30,joint-highest in the world, with Germany.

Professor Dame Sally went on to say that “by postponing starting a family until late 30s and early 40s reduces the chances of conception and increases medical risks such as higher miscarriage rate and fetal abnormalities.”

In response, The Family Planning Association commented that “fertility does not disappear overnight” and it’s a case of being mindful of one’s own fertility rather than leave it too late then panic.


Dr Lockwood medical director of Midland Fertility Services said “generally it takes twice as long to get pregnant over 35 than under.  Couples who plan more then one child need to recognise that they may achieve a pregnancy easily at 38 but find it impossible at 40.  In addition, miscarriage rates at 40 are 40% and at 45 are 75%.

“Early menopause (if before 50) is inherited through the maternal line so ask your mum when she had her menopause and if it was before 45 you cannot afford to wait until you are 35 to start trying to conceive.”

Dr Lockwood went on to say “the ‘dismal decade’ is the 10 years when a woman is still having periods but is unlikely get pregnant.  For those women who are fit, slim and healthy the ‘dismal decade’ starts at 40.

The increased health risks for ‘late’ maternity such as pre-eclampsia (raised blood pressure) and gestational diabetes are more likely if a woman’s underlying health is poor.

Many ‘IVF mums’ over 40 have had donor eggs and their health risks are actually slightly higher but the risk of miscarriage and abnormality are much, much lower as these risks are associated with the age of the egg as opposed to the age of the pregnant woman.

More information:

Midland Fertility offers various diagnostic tests to ‘measur’e a woman’s fertility

Issued: 17 January 2014