The decrease of fertility and the extra risks for you and the baby must be some of the things you’re hearing all the time if you’re considering getting pregnant at 40.
However tired you are of people telling you all that, there is some truth in it. According to the statistics, a woman’s fertility starts decreasing once she celebrates her 35th birthday, as much as a 15% every year – which means getting pregnant at 40 will definitely be more challenging than doing so at 20. But it is possible to do so, as well as getting pregnant after 40, so consider these kinds of statements carefully to make your decision (and yes, it is your decision).
Getting pregnant at 40: What about fertility?
Yes, when you’re 40, you are less fertile than when you are 20 and than when you are 30 – and more than you will be when you are 50, if you are fertile at all then. We mentioned that after year 35 of life, a woman’s fertility decreases a 15% per year (on average), but there is yet another drawback: Around 40, there is a steep drop, and the more you wait, the harder it will be.
Do you need some numbers? According to a study in the American journal Fertility and Sterility, a 40-year-old woman doing a fertility treatment has 25% chances of getting pregnant… But a 43-year-old one, only has a 10%.
But now, the good – yes, there is some good as well. Can we say for sure that there is a best age to get pregnant? Other experts state that while there is indeed a drop in fertility after 40, that drop is not as dramatic as we tend to think – which would refute or at least soften the discouraging data explained above. Some particular and well-known cases would support this theory: Consider the cases of Cherie Blair (pregnant at 45) or Hally Berry (pregnant at 46). So getting pregnant at 40 is possible – as is getting pregnant over 40!
Getting pregnant at 40: The fertility scare
We have agreed on fertility decreasing with age, right? That’s not just a matter that women consider when trying to have a baby in their 40s… Unfortunately, it is a matter of stress among women in their 30s – and, as you probably know, stress is one of the main enemies of fertility.
That stress, though, is understandable – some statistics seem made to scare! Imagine being 33, unmarried and not ready to be a mother yet (like thousands and thousands of women in the 21st century), and then reading that by age 30, a woman has already lost 90% of her eggs. It’s terrifying! Then rushed decisions may happen, due to the scare of never being able to have a baby. But after losing 90% of the eggs, a woman in her 30s still has around 10.000 – and she will only need one to make a baby.
Other scary data are the ones that state that only 30% of women between 35 and 39 will manage to get pregnant after trying a year. But before trusting those figures, think twice: They are not untrue, but are they considering women doing fertility treatments? Were those women able to get pregnant the following year? Saying it like that, it seems like two thirds of the women who wait until 35 to get pregnant will never be able to become mothers – and that isn’t true, especially with the different methods of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
Getting pregnant at 40: So how do I do it?
Easy! First of all, have lots of sex – a natural pregnancy can happen (ask Cherie Blair!). But before doing so –or during- it’s good to prepare for pregnancy: Quit smoking, cut out drinking and get some healthy habits if you don’t have them yet – you’re going to need them! Get fit if you aren’t: Being overweight and underweight make pregnancy more difficult to happen, as well as sedentary life. So join the gym, run in the park, or finally get to try that yoga everybody’s talking about.
If you can’t manage to get pregnant after trying for six months, talk to your doctor. Due to your age (there had to be some advantages at least, right?), you can go to a fertility clinic after just 6 months of unsuccessful attempts. If you have other conditions that may make conceiving a baby more difficult, such as irregular periods, you can go to the fertility doctor at once.
In the fertility clinic, both you and your partner will have to do some test to value, mostly, your ovary function and the quality of his sperm. After getting the results, doctors will give you the best advice regarding your situation.
Getting pregnant at 40: What’s coming next?
Enemies of getting pregnant at 40 will outline the many cons of carrying a pregnancy at your age, which are, roughly… Higher risks of everything: Higher risk of miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and other health problems, having trouble during childbirth and even multiple pregnancy. Yes, all true. But, again, think twice: The risks are higher, but that doesn’t mean it’s likely to happen. You just have more possibilities. You can read more about being pregnant at 40 here.
And what if you can’t get pregnant? Well, that’s why we have IVF treatments and other assisted fertility and reproductive methods, as well as adoption. Getting pregnant at 40 is possible, but not a given. However, if you can’t manage, there are other options as well.
So what do you think about getting pregnant at 40? Did you do it? If so, how hard was it? Don’t forget to tell us your experience, it might be very useful for other mummies-to-be in your same situation!