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Fertility and Age - Am I Too Young for Infertility?


Updated November 06, 2011

Question: Fertility and Age - Am I Too Young for Infertility?
When it comes to fertility and age, do women only over age 35 deal with infertility? Or can infertility occur during younger ages, such as in the 20s and early 30s?

With the emphasis in the media on age and fertility, it's not hard to see where people may think that infertility is limited to older couples. Just about every month there seems to be a news story reporting on women over 35 and their diminishing fertility.

So when a couple in their 20s or early 30s has trouble getting pregnant, it may come as a surprise; however, infertility in younger women is not so uncommon. While it's true that infertility is more common after 35, infertility can strike at any age.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, 10% of women reported seeking help for infertility at least once in the past. Also, 7% of married couples in the survey reported that they had, had 12 months of unprotected sex and the woman had not become pregnant.

What about women in their 20s? According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's report on Age and Fertility, 7% of women between the ages of 20 and 24 are infertile. Between the ages of 25 and 29, that number increases to 9%, and in the early 30s, between ages 30 and 34, infertility among married women increases to 15%.

Between the ages of 35 and 39, female infertility rates are much higher: 22% of married couples, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's report, are affected. There's no doubt that age plays a role in fertility, but age is not the only factor.

Something else couples forget about is that up to 50% of infertility cases include male factor infertility. While age does have an effect on male fertility, the most common causes of male factor infertility are not related to age.

Clearly, infertility affects women and men of all ages. So, no, you can't be too young for infertility. Fertility problems can occur at any age.

More on getting pregnant with infertility:

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Male Infertility. American Urological Association. Accessed November 6, 2011. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=102

Age and Fertility: A Guide to Patients. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed June 5, 2008. http://asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/agefertility.pdf

Assisted Reproductive Technology: Home. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed June 5, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/ART/

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