Is Pregnancy After 40 Even Possible?
Between 1990-2012, the number of women between the ages of 40-44 to become first-time mothers more than doubled. Most women are told to try having children before the age of 35. But how difficult is conceiving at age 40? Is trying to get pregnant after 40 a guarantee for fertility treatment?
Know the risks
With the advancements in today’s technology, having a healthy pregnancy after 40 is possible. However, the risk does increase with age. If a woman gets pregnant after the age of 40, risks for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or high blood pressure, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy all increase. This does not mean that pregnancy at this age is always unsafe, but women in this age bracket who get pregnant are considered high-risk.
When you need extra help
After the age of 35, women do see a decline in the quantity and quality of eggs. Many assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments can help women get pregnant successfully. Some of the most popular options include in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), egg freezing, or gestational surrogacy.
What are the odds that I can conceive naturally?
When women are at peak fertility in the 20s, every menstrual cycle brings a 25% chance of getting pregnant. That means that 1 in 4 healthy women in this age range who try to conceive are successful every month. However, by the age of 40, these chances drop to only 5% per cycle. While getting pregnant naturally is not impossible at age 40, the odds are much lower. And after the age of 45, experts say that getting pregnant is highly unlikely.
Why fertility declines
Women are born with about 1 million eggs and do not produce more over a lifetime. This means that by puberty, most women only have about 300,000 left. As time goes on, the amount of eggs drops further, so that by age 40, a woman may have less than 20,000, or less than 2% of the starting amount. If a woman does happen to get pregnant at this age, there is a higher risk that the eggs have abnormal chromosomes, which can increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
When to see a specialist
After the age of 35, experts recommend that women see a fertility specialist after trying for 6 months to conceive. However, if any underlying health conditions are present, women may opt to see a fertility specialist even sooner. These healthcare providers can conduct fertility assessments and provide treatment options to make pregnancy a success.