A major study, carried out at the University of Glasgow, has warned that women must not assume that they can delay motherhood and rely on IVF.
By waiting until their late thirties and beyond to try for a baby they risk leaving it too late because fertility treatment can never make up for lost time.
The research has concluded that after the age of 35, a woman is five times more likely to have problems becoming pregnant compared with during her twenties.
Doctors warn that far too many couples assume that the decline in fertility that comes with age can be easily resolved with IVF and other forms of fertility treatment.
But the success of these techniques depends on the number of eggs and their quality, both of which rapidly decline with age.nly 23 per cent of those having IVF at the age of 40 will have a baby, compared with more than 80 per cent of those aged 35 or younger.
"Due to the changes in society, starting your family later is now very common," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Scott Nelson, the co-author of the study, as saying.
"However, the number and quality of eggs within the ovary reduces as you get older. This places women at risk of infertility and pregnancy complications, which can't always be overcome by assisted conception.
"It is important that women are aware that maternal age is directly linked to a wide range of maternal and perinatal complications," added Nelson.
The study has been published in the Obstetrician and Gynaecologist journal.