The relation between age and fertility. Over time women become less fertile so there is a lower chance of conceiving and higher chances of miscarriage, when they give birth they are more likely to experience difficulties and the born child is more likely

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Difficulties with later pregnancies

Problems with Older pregnancy

The increased desires for a fulfilling lifestyle means women are leaving starting a family later and later. Whereas woman would normally have a strong urge to start a family they now want to succeed in a working world and leave having children until they have a secure relationship and financial stability. Higher standards of education in school educates children on better contraception and family planning meaning people don’t start families until they feel ‘ready’. However the increased risks associated with later pregnancies should be a factor in their decisions. Giving birth at a later stage presents (1) 3 main difficulties. Over time women become less fertile so there is a lower chance of conceiving and higher chances of miscarriage, when they give birth they are more likely to experience difficulties and the born child is more likely to have a Genetic disorder. All these problems mean that older pregnancy carries a much greater risk which should encourage people to give birth at younger ages.

The optimum birth age is between 20-34, once you reach 35 the problems will start appearing. Figure 1 shows a steady increase of people aged between 30-34 and 35-39 giving birth, plus people aged 40+ are also slowly increasing in their birth rates. It also shows that people under 29 have been having fewer births. A problem with this graph though is it only shows live births. If still births were also taken into account then the older ages are likely to have a higher increase.

The 3 Belated Pregnancy Problems

Decreased fertility

        As women get older their fertility decreases. Figure 2 shows that once you’ve reached 35 there’s around a 50% chance of not getting pregnant after intercourse. The optimum age is between 20-24 which has the lowest chance of infertility and the highest chance of pregnancy. From this time onwards your fertility starts to decrease. (3)According to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, "At 35 you're half as fertile as when you were at 25; at 40 you're half as fertile as when you were 35". Meaning that the time it takes to conceive gets much bigger over a relatively small amount of time. In fact by the time women are in their early 40’s or late 30’s they may have trouble conceiving at all and become infertile.

        (3)There are a variety of reasons fertility decreases with the main one being the reduction in ovary function. The Ovarian reserve reduces as woman age. This is the capability of the ovaries to produce eggs which can be fertilized, as woman age the number of ovarian follicles reduces. Ovarian follicles are the main workers in the female reproductive system. They produce the female gametes and then release them into he womb. (5)The follicles reduce over time as woman age, after each menstrual cycle some of the follicles are absorbed into the body, females start with over a million follicles but by the end of teenage puberty this number is likely to have halved. In a general menstrual cycle, around 12 follicles begin producing new eggs, but there is a dominant follicle which matures faster and releases the egg through ovulation. (5)After ovulation occurs, the ovarian follicles which have partially grown are reabsorbed by the body meaning they cannot be used in the future. In some cases however, unreleased eggs can continue to develop, becoming a cystic structure. As the count decreases over time so does your fertility as you are less likely to create eggs that are developed enough for the sperm to fertilize. (3)It also means that the egg supply runs out much quicker than if you had more follicles.

        (6)As woman approach the menopause (around the age of 52) their menstrual cycle slowly stops in a process called perimenopause. Firstly their periods will get less severe resulting in less blood loss. The cycle will then last longer before some periods may be skipped altogether, eventually this results in them stopping altogether. The shortening of the menstrual cycle means the times in which you can conceive become much less frequent and once menopause is reached the chance of getting pregnant is almost impossible, it is suggested that a year after the menopause has ended your chance of getting pregnant is vitually zero. Along with the severe reduction in conceiving the menopause also holds other side affects which are summarized in Figure 3. Although this is not directly linked to difficulties with pregnancy the menopause can be delayed if the womb is kept active meaning earlier births can ward off the symptoms for a longer time.

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According to the definition of the Endometrium is, (8) ‘The uterine lining. A tissue which is shed monthly in response to hormonal changes of the menstrual period. The Endometrium then grows back and slowly gets thicker and thicker until the next period when it is once again sloughed off.’ (9)This plays a vital role in conception allowing the formation of the placenta, which supplies oxygen and nutrition to the fetus. As a females age increases she may experience the problem of Thin Endometrium, this can happen at any age but women in their late 40’s are more likely to ...

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**** A very good AS level research report, in which key scientific data regarding the problems associated with late child bearing and some of the solutions are clearly presented and referenced. The solutions are less well explored than the problems and the reference list and evaluation lacks detail. To improve: 1)Explain the 'biology' behind the solutions more thoroughly. There is a lot of information and statistics about the problems, but solutions are analysed less thoroughly. For example, how effective is genetic screening etc. 2)Give a reference list that follows standard Harvard format. Instructions should be available online 3)Evaluate references more thoroughly, considering the suggestions given next to the section