Age and fertility: can women wait until their early thirties to try for a first birth?

J Biosoc Sci. 2011 Nov;43(6):685-700. doi: 10.1017/S002193201100040X.


Postponing the start of childbearing raises the question of fertility postponed versus fertility foregone. One of the limitations of previous studies of 'How late can you wait?' is that any observed decline in the probability of conception with age could be due to a decline in fecundability with age or due to a decline in coital frequency with age or due to both factors. Using data from a multinational longitudinal study conducted to determine the daily probability of conception among healthy subjects, a discrete-time event history model with long-term survivors (sterile population) is used to study the relationship between age and fecundability for childless women, while controlling for the pattern of intercourse within a menstrual cycle. The findings suggest that women can wait until their early thirties to try for a first birth, providing that they are not already sterile, as the magnitude of the decline in fecundability is very modest and of little practical importance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Fertilization
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Maternal Age
  • Menstrual Cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Young Adult