Many women are waiting to start their families. Maybe it’s because they want to take some time to establish a strong career. They might choose to wait because they haven’t found the right partner just yet. But by the time they do get that career in high gear or find the partner of their dreams, they might be in their 40’s. That’s when they start asking if it’s too late – if they waited too long to have a baby.
There’s great news on that! Pregnancy after 40 is definitely possible. It’s safe and healthy. Though your chances of conceiving do drop the older you get, many women these days are choosing to have a pregnancy after 40, during their 40s, and even into their very late 40s. If you’re in that boat, rest assured that it can probably still happen for you. However, You should definitely bear in mind what to expect from your odds of pregnancy after 40, and how to make your chances even better.
Pregnancy After 40—What Are the Odds?
It is important to understand the realistic odds of pregnancy after 40. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine points out that women over 40 have a less than a 5% chance of getting pregnant naturally. The use of in vitro fertilization and other methods offers a success rate of between 6 and 10 percent for those women over 40, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Those numbers do sound very low, but keep in mind that fertility for more women peaks when they are in their 20s, and gradually declines from there. In fact, by the time a woman turns 30, her chances of getting pregnant are likely about 20 percent in any given month. By the time a woman turns 35, her body is on the downward side of a long decline in fertility.
Pregnancy After 40—How to Increase Success Rate
Not conceiving yet? If you are in your 40s, a good rule of thumb is to try having unprotected sex two to three times per week for three months. If you aren’t pregnant by that time, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. You can have some blood tests done that will rule out any potential problems that might keep you from conceiving.
If the blood tests come back fine and you are given the green light to keep trying, here are a few ways to help increase your chances.
1. Work with a Good Doctor
It’s a good idea to become very familiar with the Ob/Gyns in your area, and then choose one that deals specifically with high-risk pregnancies and infertility. A great doctor can guide you to the right treatments and methods that can increase your chances of conceiving. You should be very comfortable with your doctor, as you will be on this emotional rollercoaster for a while before you see that positive pregnancy test.
2. Deal with Existing Health Problems
If you have any health problems, now is the time to get them treated. Lose weight if you need to, or gain some. Get on proper medications for any chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure. Keep in mind that some conditions might not have clear symptoms, such as thyroid problems or some sexually transmitted diseases, but these could easily affect your ability to conceive. That’s why a good doctor who will run all the tests you need is so important.
3. Keep a Healthy Lifestyle
Your lifestyle might need some changes in order to make it easier for you to conceive. If you indulge in wine and other spirits, it’s time to cut back. The same goes for smoking, which you should drop altogether. Anything that is risky behavior, such as doing drugs, should be a strict no-no. You should also make sure to cut back on stress, get plenty of sleep, and eat as though you were already pregnant.
4. Eat Healthy
How are your eating habits? The rule of thumb is to eat as though you were already pregnant. Get plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and foods that contain folate, such as legumes, citrus fruit, and dark leafy greens. Protein can come from fatty fish and lean meats. Eggs and low-fat dairy are great, but stay away from sugar and junk foods. A prenatal vitamin is also a great idea.
5. Consider Donor Eggs
At this point you might conceive naturally, but the numbers say that you probably won’t. That’s why it’s important to consider donor eggs if you really want to conceive. The chances of a woman conceiving with viable donor eggs are much, much better than the odds of conceiving naturally. You can also choose to use a surrogate to carry a child for you. These options are becoming much more accepted in recent years, so it never hurts to take a look into what it might mean for you and your partner.
However, if you are over 40 and want to get pregnant, now is the time to begin!
What Are the Possible Risks of Pregnancy After 40?
Many women have good reasons to wait to get pregnant. After 40, it’s safe to assume that you are in a stable financial situation, you have a stable relationship with a partner, you have learned more about patience and understanding, and you are in a place in life where you can truly handle the responsibility of a baby.
But there are risks to pregnancy over 40, and those require a woman to be very realistic about the odds of pregnancy, as well as her chances of having a healthy baby. Most women who are over the age of 40 when they conceive are considered high-risk because of the dangers involved. These include higher than normal chances of developing things like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, or problems with the pregnancy, such as placenta abruption, low birth weight or a cesarean section.
Women can also face a higher risk of chromosome problems for their children, including Down syndrome. Your body recognizes when something is seriously wrong, which is why the chance of miscarriage also goes up – in fact, women over the age of 40 might run a 50 percent chance of miscarriage, depending upon other health factors.