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By Mache Seibel, MD, Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

If Goldilocks were trying to conceive she would have asked the question, “Is my timing to early, to late, or just right.” Depending where you are in your personal life and in your reproductive life, timing and perspective for those 3 issues may be very well aligned are totally out of sync.

On the one hand, when you look at the tabloids and the magazines in the checkout line of the grocery store, it seems like anybody can get pregnant at just about any age. There’s just no end to conception. The truth is, there is likely never a perfect time to have a baby. You may be single, building your career, are just waiting for the financial circumstances to become more favorable. However, as women consider the timing of when to start a family, age plays one of the most important variables that factors in to the ultimate success of family building.

Let’s start with the facts. A study published in the journal human reproduction showed that female fertility starts to fall off gradually around age 27. By age 35 and beyond, women who want to become parents may have to wait even longer before coming parents. The researchers found that women between the ages of 19 and 26 with partners who were similar in age, had approximately a 50% chance of becoming pregnant during any one menstrual cycle if they had intercourse 2 days before they ovulated.

For women aged 27 to 34, the chance was 40%, and for women over the age of 35 the probability dropped to 30%. At age 40 the chances for conception in a single month drop to 5% and after age 42 they are even lower. In a study that I published looking at women who were trying to get pregnant who had no fertility problems but were using donor insemination to conceive, about 60% of the women got pregnant within 4 months, about 75% of the women were pregnant within 6 months, and about 95% of the women got pregnant within 12 months. This means that even if you don’t have any fertility problems, it can take up to one year to conceive.

Here are some things you can do to improve your chances for conception at any age.

1) Eat a healthy diet.

2) Don’t smoke.

3) Take a multivitamin daily

4) Exercise regularly

5) Avoid excessive drinking or taking any street drugs

6) Make an effort to control your level of stress through exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer or whatever works for you.

7) Have intercourse about twice per week.

Here are 3 tips on when to see a fertility doctor.

1)   If you are 30 to 34 years of age and don’t get pregnant within 9 months

2)   If you are 35-37 years of age or older and you do not get pregnant within 6 months,

3)   If you are 38 years of age or older and thinking of starting a family, see a fertility doctor at that time and don’t wait. Time is the most important commodity in having a baby as a woman ages beyond 35.

This isn’t to say that many women won’t be successful starting their families as they age. It’s just important to realize that making the baby takes time. To see a short cartoon video called Making a Baby Takes Time, click here. (http://youtu NULL.be/FOK9EpMxrlc)

Notes for this blog:

Machelle (Mache) Seibel, MD, a pioneer in many areas of women’s health and a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years, treats women in perimenopause and menopause with gynecologic disorders interfering with mental health and/or sexual function and creates award-winning educational content for women (http://www.HealthRock.com (http://www NULL.healthrock NULL.com/)). (http://www.DoctorSeibel.com (http://www NULL.doctorseibel NULL.com/))

Dr. Seibel is also noted for working with companies and organizations to help them reach, teach and motivate their audience to stay well with award-winning health educational content through his ground-breaking interactive product, “HealthRock®.”

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