Getting pregnant in your 30s

As you enter your 30s, your chances of getting pregnant are high – about 1 in 4 women in their early 30s will get pregnant during one given cycle. As you get closer to 40, it's biologically more difficult to get pregnant and you may have a higher risk of miscarriage, chromosomal issues, and other pregnancy complications. But most women in their 30s will get pregnant with little trouble. If you're ready to get pregnant, there are plenty of ways to boost your fertility and have a healthy pregnancy. 

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Photo credit: Katie Rain

Why more women are getting pregnant in their 30s

For many decades, women between the ages of 25 and 29 had the highest birth rate. But in a 2016 research study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that for the first time ever, women in their 30s were having more babies than women in their 20s. A separate 2018 study revealed that the average age for first-time mothers has gone up from 21 in the 1970s to 26 (and from 27 to 31 for male partners).

So, why are more women having babies in their 30s? There are a few main reasons.

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  • Finances. The number one reason for women delaying childbearing is money, according to a 2020 survey. In fact, 60 percent of respondents wanted to have more money saved before becoming a parent; 51 percent wanted to earn a higher salary first. The cost of having a baby is high, and could add up to about $23,380 per year on the high end.
  • Health implications. The same 2020 survey revealed that 46 percent of respondents feared COVID-19, access to prenatal care, and the ability to afford fertility treatments if needed. On the other side of the coin, there's also more access to reliable birth control, giving women more of a choice over when to have a child.
  • Social norms. Some women want to make sure they have stable careers or reach a certain title at their jobs before starting a family. And because there's no mandated paid maternity leave policy in the U.S., many aspiring mothers simply might not be able to afford to have a baby and may delay pregnancy. Additionally, studies have shown that women earn up to 20 percent less than their male counterparts over the course of their careers after having children.
  • Assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Over the years (and thanks in part to social media), fertility treatment has become less taboo, and women are more aware of the options that can help them have a baby later in life (if they have the financial means to do so) such as egg freezing.

    Although your chances for a healthy pregnancy decline in your late 30s and 40s, your odds of success with assisted reproductive technology are much better with younger eggs. Some women bank their eggs sooner than they plan to have kids in case they have difficulty conceiving naturally as they get older, and want to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) down the road.

Is it harder to get pregnant in your 30s?

The short answer is maybe. A woman's peak fertility is in her teens and 20s. At age 30, fertility slowly starts to decrease. Most women don't have trouble early in the decade. In fact, even as you inch closer to your late 30s, your chance of getting pregnant within a year is around 65 percent. Age 37 is when fertility decreases more rapidly.

There are some risks to be aware of when it comes to getting pregnant in your 30s. But remember, you're still very likely to get pregnant easily in your 30s, especially in your early 30s.  


Miscarriage risk rises slowly during your early 30s, but around 35, things change. At age 35, you have about a 20 percent risk of miscarriage with each pregnancy. By age 40, the risk is about 40 percent, and it increases to about 80 percent by age 45. Most miscarriages are caused by abnormal chromosome numbers – either missing or extra chromosomes – the chance of this happening increases as the age of the egg (and the age of the woman) increases.

That's because, unlike men who continue to produce sperm throughout their lives, women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have, and with age, the quality and quantity of these eggs decreases.

As we age, women can have a harder time getting pregnant at all and a higher chance of conceiving with an abnormal egg, which could result in a miscarriage or a baby with a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome. Risks of chromosome anomalies in embryos rise sharply after age 35, although the risk is is still low. At age 25, Down syndrome risk is about 1 in 1,400. At age 35, the odds are about 1 in 350; at age 40, the risk increases to 1 in 100.

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Ectopic pregnancy and other health complications

Women 35 and older are also more likely than younger women to have an ectopic pregnancy and are at higher risk for complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Many more women in this age group have preexisting conditions like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes before they get pregnant.

Since chromosomal abnormalities increase as we get older, once you're pregnant your doctor will discuss options for genetic screening of the pregnancy. Many parents want to know if their pregnancy is affected by a missing or extra chromosome (like Down syndrome). Tests offered include non-invasive testing such as cell-free fetal DNA blood testing and advanced ultrasounds.

Also available for certain high-risk women are amniocentesis and CVS. Your provider will discuss these options with you, explaining how the tests are done, their cost to you, how to interpret the results, and what the results would mean for your pregnancy. You get to decide if the tests are right for you.

Cesarean birth

Cesarean rates are also higher for women older than 35: Women this age have about a 43 percent chance of a C-section delivery compared to a roughly 30 percent chance for mothers in their 20s. Experts suspect these increased cesarean rates are caused by pregnancy problems like fetal distress or prolonged second-stage labor, which are more common for older mothers.


Women ages 35 to 39 are slightly more likely to have twins – even without the fertility treatments that raise the odds of a multiple birth.

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Typically, you release one egg a cycle. But as you get older, your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level increases. With a higher FSH, there's a slightly higher chance you'll release more than one egg during a cycle, upping the odds of a multiple birth, and in some cases, a high-risk pregnancy.

Advantages of getting pregnant in your 30s

Though it's easier biologically to have a baby in your 20s, there are plenty of upsides to having your first baby or growing your family in your 30s. You likely have your own personal reasons for why you want to get pregnant now, but here are some potential benefits:

  • You may have a higher income and more financial security because you've had more time to establish your career. 
  • Studies have found that women who became first-time moms at or after age 33 have greater odds of living to age 95 (compared to younger moms).
  • Studies have also found children of older mothers had fewer behavioral, social, and emotional problems than kids of younger mothers, and these moms resorted less to verbal or physical punishment for their kids.

How to maximize fertility in your 30s

You can't slow down your biological clock, but you can make some healthy lifestyle choices to maximize your fertility in your 30s. Here are some tips:

Limit alcohol and caffeine

You don't necessarily need to go cold turkey on alcohol and caffeine when trying to conceive, but it's smart to consume both in moderation. Studies have found that heavy, long-term use of alcohol can negatively impact sperm. And remember, you might be pregnant and not find out for a few weeks, so it's best to err on the side of caution and only drink alcohol in moderation. Studies have also found that drinking more than 300 mg of caffeine daily, the equivalent of a large cup of coffee from Starbucks, can make it harder to get pregnant too.

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Eat an overall healthy diet

When you're trying to get pregnant, lower your intake of processed foods loaded with saturated fat and up your consumption of good-for-you foods that are high in antioxidants, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, and vegetable proteins. Eating healthy while trying to conceive will also help you maintain a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI). Studies have found that women with BMIs that were too high or too low had a harder time conceiving.

Start taking prenatal vitamins

It's good idea for women of any age to start taking an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin at least a month before trying to get pregnant. Look for a prenatal that contains folic acid to prevent neural tube defects and iron to prevent anemia in pregnancy. Your practitioner may also recommend an additional supplement such as vitamin D or Coq10, another over-the-counter vitamin that has been shown in some studies to improve egg quality.

Get enough sleep

A study conducted by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) found that women who had low-quality sleep had lower fertilization rates during IVF than those who got good quality sleep, in part because sleep helps balance our hormones. Plus, the more tired and stressed you are, and the less likely you may be to exercise and eat healthy. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

De-stress as needed

It's unclear if infertility causes stress or stress causes infertility, but studies have found that women with depression are twice as likely to experience infertility.

It's important to try and stay as relaxed as possible while TTC, whatever that means for you. Prenatal yoga, meditation, walking, getting outside, acupuncture, therapy, journaling, calling a friend, or visiting a salon are all valid and healthy ways to relax. Self-care is imperative for your mental health while trying to conceive.

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Track your cycle

Your menstrual cycle could change once you hit your 30s, so you may want to track your cycle when you're trying to get pregnant so you know the optimal time to have sex. You can use an app or old-fashioned calendar to keep track, and buy at-home ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) that measure your hormones and can help predict your fertile days.

Day 1 of your cycle is the day your period starts; for women with regular, 28-day cycles, ovulation occurs somewhere around days 12 to 14. The optimal time to have sex to get pregnant is about two days before ovulation.

Get your partner on board

Though aging doesn't affect male fertility as much as it does female fertility, your male partner can maximize his sperm health and help you get pregnant in your 30s by exercising regularly and eating healthy foods too. It's a good idea for him to also quit smoking, avoid spending too much time in hot tubs, and be mindful of his undies.

Some studies have found that men who wore loose-fitting boxers instead of tight briefs have better sperm count and concentration. For most men, however, it's not necessary to change their favorite underwear. If your partner's semen analysis shows anything abnormal though, that could be one easy thing to change.


When to see a fertility specialist about fertility issues

The general rule of thumb is if you're younger than 35 and have had frequent (about two or three times a week) unprotected sex for a year without becoming pregnant, then it's time to consult a fertility expert, also known as a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). These are ob-gyns with extra training in fertility.

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If you're 35 or older, see a specialist if you've had frequent unprotected sex for at least six months and still aren't pregnant. And if there are reasons you may have trouble getting pregnant – such as a history of irregular or missed periods, sexually transmitted diseases, or pelvic pain – it doesn't hurt to see an expert even sooner.

There's no shame in seeing a reproductive endocrinologist and taking charge of your reproductive health. Infertility is common; 1 in five heterosexual couples are unable to get pregnant after a year of unprotected sex, and about 1 in four women have trouble maintaining a pregnancy (known as recurrent pregnancy loss or repeated miscarriages).

Most specialists start a fertility evaluation by doing blood tests to determine if there's a problem with your ovaries or hormone levels, and may perform a hysterosalpingogram, or HSG, to look at your uterus and fallopian tubes. If you have a male partner, he'll undergo a semen analysis. Your provider will advise you about your options depending on your individual circumstances and results.

For more on age and fertility, read our articles on getting pregnant in your 20s and 40s.

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BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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Haley Longman
Haley Longman is a New Jersey-based writer and editor who spent the early years of her journalism career covering entertainment, celebrities, and reality TV. She has been creating a wider range of lifestyle content since becoming a mom in 2017, including writing and editing digital and print stories on her favorite topics: women's health, fertility, pregnancy, and parenting. Longman lives in North Jersey with her husband and their son.