What Is Advanced Maternal Age and Why Does It Matter?
Sometimes, it’s good to be called “advanced” — such as when you’re in a spin class at the gym or learning a language. When it comes to your age and your pregnancy status, however, the term can seem a bit confusing. “Advanced maternal age” is a phrase used to refer to pregnancy in a woman who is in her mid-30s or older.
Using this reference to women over 35 years old is not implying that the pregnancy shouldn’t happen or any other negative connotation. It refers to how the female reproductive system is most fertile while you are in your teens and twenties. After that, the likelihood of complications can increase as you get older.
Why Is the Term Necessary?
Medical professionals want to provide plenty of attention to women who want to get pregnant once they pass age 35. So, the term “advanced maternal age” became their way to flag these cases and indicate there could be more risks involved.
In What Ways Does Age Affect Pregnancy?
Women don’t develop eggs as they go through life. Instead, you are born with the total amount of eggs you will have for a lifetime. Every part of your body ages with you, even your eggs. In addition, diverse changes can happen as you enter your 30s. Some of your eggs may get damaged, and others could be harder to fertilize. This can occur due to a variety of issues, such as endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases, or lifestyle factors like smoking. Any of these can prevent or delay your chance at conception.
If you do not have these concerns or can get past them, there are still separate areas that should get addressed. For instance, deterioration of your eggs can increase the possibility of birth defects. This is why a physician will suggest extra prenatal testing. Also, pregnancy is stressful for the body, which can be more harmful as you get older. It can threaten your life or that of your child and is therefore considered a high-risk situation.
There Is Good News
There are many women in the “advanced maternal age” category who have had healthy pregnancies without any struggles. However, it’s important to know some of the potential risks involved so you can make informed decisions. Furthermore, if you’re already pregnant, you should understand what is involved in carrying a child after your mid-30s. It’s imperative to work with your physician to take excellent care of your health.
Whatever stage you find yourself in this process, start the conversation with your doctor right away. If you are unable to make it into our office, video conference appointments are available for your convenience.
This post was first published on wfmchealth.org.