"As far as health is concerned, 24 to 30 is the best age to get pregnant because a woman is at the peak of fertility. Too early or too late carries risks of complications," says Dr Joe Wanyoike Gichuhi, a senior lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Nairobi. As age increases, he says, so does the risk of other problems that may affect fertility such as uterine fibroids, adenomyosis and endometriosis.
The biggest risk an older women faces, though, is difficulty conceiving because of the sharp decline of fertility at 35. "A woman is born with a certain number of eggs which naturally age and die off, a process called atresia. The eggs are at their highest at 16 weeks in the female foetus, about six million. At childbirth that number has gone down to about half. By the time a woman is hitting puberty, the number has gone down further still.
That's the main cause of difficulty conceiving as a woman grows older," says Dr Wanjiru Ndegwa-Njuguna, a fertility specialist at Footsteps to Fertility Centre. "If you're over 35 and haven't been able to conceive within six months of regular intercourse then it is advisable that you see a doctor," she says. If, on the other hand, you're below 35 and haven't conceived within a year of regular intercourse, see a doctor.
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