These days, it seems every magazine and celebrity website is full of stories of the latest 40-something celebrity who has just announced she’s pregnant. What might seem like just another celebrity trend is actually reaching beyond the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to women around the world.
The number of women having their first child in their 40s has more than doubled between 1990 and 2012. Although it’s becoming increasingly common, most people still don’t know a lot about it, and questions remain about what it’s like to get pregnant later in life.
We get a lot of questions from women who are wondering if they’re too old to have a baby and from women who are in their 40s, pregnant and wondering what to expect. If you’re considering getting pregnant in your 40s — or you’re already there — there are a few things you’ll want to know.
Is It Too Late to Get Pregnant?
No, most women are still able to get pregnant well into their 40s. Many women choose to delay starting a family in order to pursue a career. They want to establish themselves in their field and become financially stable before bringing a child into the world. Other women have waited to have a baby until they met the partner they wanted to raise a family with. Others opted to travel, pursue hobbies or care for aging family members first.
Whatever your reason, know that you’re in good company. As your journey toward pregnancy and parenthood progresses, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to encounter more and more parents who are starting a family later in life.
Anyone can experience healthy pregnancies as long as they’re still actively having menstrual cycles. But your body’s ability to produce an egg that can be properly fertilized and form into an embryo declines as you age. At age 25, your chances of conceiving each month are around 18 percent. By the time you reach age 40, your chances of conceiving naturally are only about seven percent because the number of eggs you have and the quality of those eggs has significantly diminished.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant in your 40s — it just means you may need to enlist a fertility specialist to help you start a family.
A fertility specialist can help you determine whether your eggs are helping or hindering the conception process. A specialist can also offer treatments and alternatives to conceiving naturally that increase your chances of getting pregnant after 40.
Are There Risks?
Pregnancy is a miracle. There’s no other way to describe it. No one wants to talk about risks, but anytime you’re talking about a change to a woman’s body, some amount of risk exists. If you’re over the age of 40, doctors will label your pregnancy as high-risk because you have a greater chance of encountering pregnancy complications such as:
- Gestational diabetes
- Birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities
- Low birth weight
- Ectopic pregnancy
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia
- Cesarean delivery
It’s important to note that these risks are similar to the risks of becoming pregnant at any age. The difference when you’re in your 40s is that the risk of one or more of these occurring increases.
Can I Improve My Egg Quality?
If you’re looking for ways to decrease the risks associated with pregnancy, it’s essential to focus on your overall physical health and emotional wellbeing. Although there’s nothing you can do to improve your egg quality, there are some ways to improve and protect your overall health, so your body is more capable of handling a pregnancy when it occurs.
1. Eat Healthy and Exercise
If you do your own research, you’ll likely encounter a lot of opinions about foods that can increase fertility, but what it comes down to is eating a balanced diet that’s low in sugar and processed foods. While there’s no diet that will guarantee pregnancy, eating healthy is a great way to prepare your body for what’s ahead. Follow a diet that is low in sugar and processed foods. Be sure to consume foods that contain folic acid and calcium — both key nutrients in the development of an embryo.
Exercise is also an important element of a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to go out and start running marathons, but regular exercise such as walking, biking, swimming or yoga is a great way to maintain or improve your overall health, so your body is prepared to handle pregnancy.
2. Address Medical Conditions
If you have thyroid issues, high blood pressure or diabetes, it’s important to have these under control and be under the regular care of a doctor. In some cases, these conditions can impact your body’s ability to conceive or stay pregnant. Women who are over 35 are also more likely to encounter problems related to endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
3. Talk With a Fertility Specialist
More often than not, when you’re in your 40s, becoming pregnant takes some time. It also takes the help of an experienced, compassionate fertility specialist. If you haven’t been able to conceive on your own, a fertility specialist can identify the reason why and recommend appropriate steps to address the problem. In some cases, you may be able to conceive on your own with the help of fertility drugs. In other cases, you may benefit from IVF or egg donation.
Does My Partner’s Age Matter?
If your partner is also older, their age may play a part in your ability to get pregnant. One study found, after adjusting for the age of the woman, men are 30 percent less likely to successfully impregnate their partner after age 40. Even if their age doesn’t play a role, men may have another issue that is preventing their sperm from properly fertilizing an egg. In fact, male infertility accounts for approximately one-third of couples who are unable to conceive naturally.
What Are My Options?
Many women have intentionally delayed starting a family to focus on a career, travel or become financially secure. Waiting to start a family until you’re older can be a wonderful thing. Unlike many younger couples, older women typically don’t experience as much stress related to finances or housing. They are also more secure in who they are and have a support system established to help them when the baby arrives.
In some cases, fertility drugs or IVF are great options for women struggling to conceive. But, in other cases, a woman’s body just isn’t able to produce a viable egg for fertilization. Egg donation is a wonderful way for a couple to experience the joys of pregnancy and finally start the family they’ve always dreamed of.
What Is Egg Donation?
Egg donation occurs when a donor — another woman — gives some of her eggs for the purpose of helping another woman carry a child in her womb. The donated egg is removed from the donor and then fertilized in a lab with sperm from the intended mother’s partner. Once the embryo is fertilized, it is then implanted in the intended mother through IVF. Then, it implants itself in the uterus, and pregnancy begins.
Egg donation is a good option for women in their 40s who are trying to conceive because of the concerns about their own egg quality. Potential egg donors go through a lengthy screening process before their eggs are retrieved.
Contact Western Fertility Institute Today
Pregnancy at any age is full of joys, as well as challenges. At the Western Fertility Institute, we understand that each person has a unique story and faces unique challenges in their journey to becoming a parent, especially women who choose to start a family later in life. Our goal is to walk you through the process of identifying those challenges and finding solutions to overcome them, so you can finally start the family you’ve been longing for.
Thanks to the skill of our experienced medical staff, the CDC has ranked us number one for our IVF success rate. If you’re ready to start a family but looking for help and support to conceive, visit our website or make an appointment to learn more about IVF and egg donation.