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Hum Reprod Update. 2005 May-Jun;11(3):261-76. Epub 2005 Apr 14.

Fertility and ageing.


The late 20th century trend to delay birth of the first child until the age at which female fecundity or reproductive capacity is lower has increased the incidence of age-related infertility. The trend and its consequences have also stimulated interest in the possible factors in the female and the male that may contribute to the decline in fecundity with age; in the means that exist to predict fecundity; and in the consequences for pregnancy and childbirth. In the female, the number of oocytes decreases with age until the menopause. Oocyte quality also diminishes, due in part to increased aneuploidy because of factors such as changes in spindle integrity. Although older male age affects the likelihood of conception, abnormalities in sperm chromosomes and in some components of the semen analysis are less important than the frequency of intercourse. Age is as accurate as any other predictor of conception with assisted reproductive technology. The decline in fecundity becomes clinically relevant when women reach their mid-30s, when even assisted reproduction treatment cannot compensate for the decline in fecundity associated with delaying attempts at conceiving. Pregnancies among women aged >40 years are associated with more non-severe complications, more premature births, more congenital malformations and more interventions at birth.

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