For most people, they spend their teens and twenties trying not to have an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy. The focus is on contraception rather than on fertility. The heart-breaking thing is, for many of these people, when they finally do want to start their family, they find themselves unable to conceive.

In this blog, we will look at the optimum age for conception and what you can do to give yourself the best possible chance of conceiving.

What is the recommended age for having a baby?

A woman is likely to be most fertile between her late teens and late twenties. This is the period of time when she is also least likely to conceive a baby that has chromosomal abnormalities.

Although this is the optimum time physically, many people of this age have not yet met the person that they want to start a family with, or they feel that other elements of their life, such as finances or living arrangements are not suited to becoming a parent.

While it is recommended to have your first child before you are 30, some women can conceive in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. After the age of 30, however, fertility starts to lessen, the quality of eggs starts to deteriorate and the likelihood of having a baby with Down Syndrome or other abnormalities increases. The risk to the mum is also greater after the age of 30.


When canI check if I have fertility problems?  

If you have noticed any irregularity in your periods, for example, if they are erratic and don’t follow a pattern of being around every 28 days, or they are very light, you can ask your GP for advice about this. It may also be an indication that you have PCOS Polycystic OvarySyndrome, which can make it more difficult to conceive when you want to.

If you have very painful and heavy periods, this could be a sign of endometriosis, which can also potentially be problematic when you want to conceive.  

There are drugs and/or procedures that can treat these conditions and potentially improve your chances of conceiving.

When you are trying for a baby, if you are struggling to conceive, there are tests that can be done to check your ovarian reserve and to check the quality, quantity and motility your male partner’s sperm (if applicable). Other tests and assessments can also be carried out.


I’m not ready to have a baby yet – how can I preserve my fertility?

Many people choose to have their eggs or sperm frozen, while they are young, to increase their chances of conceiving later. This is particularly advised in the case of people who are about to undergo treatment for cancer, as the treatment can destroy the eggs and reduce the chances of conception.


What canI do to increase my chances of being more fertile?

Having and maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout your teens and adulthood can increase your chances of conceiving more easily and having a healthy child.This includes having a varied and balanced diet, taking regular exercise, avoiding smoking and the use of recreational drugs and avoiding contact with harsh chemicals in the workplace.


I’m ready to start trying for a baby, what can I do now to increase my chances?

When you are ready to conceive, it is advisable to completely cut out alcohol and to start taking the recommended dose of folic acid, to reduce the risk of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities.

Having sex regularly, especially around the time of ovulation, can increase your chances of conceiving.

Also, following the guidelines above of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for both female and male partners, is important and can make a very positive difference with the outcome.


At the IVF Network, we aim to provide information and support for people at all stages of their fertility journey. We do this through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts. We want you to feel educated and informed, so that you can make the best choices for you on your journey.