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There really is a perfect age to get pregnant — says science

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

Want 3 kids? Scientists predict the age you need to get pregnant

How long can you wait to start trying and still get the family of your dreams? While there are no guarantees, a new study provides a pretty good prediction of when you need to get busy.

When it comes to making babies, it seems a lot simpler when you're trying not to get pregnant. Once the trying begins, many couples realize it's not always as easy to have the exact number of children they want, right when they want them — and it's less easier the older they get. A new study out of the Netherlands will likely open many eyes as it provides estimates as to the maximum age at which a woman should begin trying, depending on how many children she wants and whether she's willing to undergo in vitro fertilization to get them.

More: There's a new way to calculate your pregnancy due date

For example, the researchers conclude:

  • If you dream of having three children and don't want to undergo IVF, the maximum age you should start trying is 23 for a 90 percent success rate. If you wait until you're 35, your chances of success go down to 50 percent.
  • If you want one child and are willing to undergo IVF, your predicted success rate at 35 is 90 percent. It goes down to 50 percent if you wait until age 42.
  • If you want one child without using IVF, the latest you should start trying is age 32.

While this study only took into account a woman's age, other studies have shown that a man's age can affect a couple's fertility as well. One study showed that a man's chance of fathering a child decreases each year, by as much as 11 percent.

More: 8 Seriously creepy things that happen when you're pregnant

For couples who want to build careers, travel and put off babymaking for a variety of other reasons, the numbers may be a bit sobering. However, it's better to know ahead of time, which many people don't. Research shows that almost half of women of women over 40 were "shocked" when they had to resort to fertility treatments to get pregnant.

The takeaway from all this information shouldn't be for couples to panic and rush into parenthood before they're ready, but rather to arm them with the information and realities of what they may face if they wait. Also, while everyone may have their idea of the perfect family in their head, most times, the one you wind up with in your arms — no matter what size — ends up being the perfect one for you.

More: 15 Things you should do when trying to get pregnant

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