- Women's Health»
Fertility and pregnancy over 40
me, aged 41 with my son of 1 year
Age and fertility
Advanced maternal age and pregnancy is becoming a more controversial topic by the day, as older women constantly defy medical predictions and manage to conceive and give birth to healthy babies.
The common belief is that fertility drops off dramatically after the age of 40. There is truth in the fact that conceiving a healthy baby in your 40s is more difficult than at 25, but the news isn't completely negative. Many women are having babies later in life. Falling pregnant in one's 40s may be more of a challenge, but it IS possible. Older women shouldn't give up hope of becoming mothers, as long as they remain realistic, as it could present some challenges.
Research shows that a woman's fertility peaks between the ages of 20 and 24 and drops to half by the age of 35. This indicates that fertility is affected by a woman's age, although more and more women are having babies in their late 30s and into their mid 40s, as more and more couples are choosing to have babies later in life, due to a number of reasons. Facts are that at 40, most women are half as fertile as they were at 35.
This doesn’t mean that you can't fall pregnant, it just means that the older you get, the longer it may take to conceive.
The most common fertility problem in older women is producing sufficient quality eggs.
Time is also a factor, as one doesn’t have the luxury of “trying” for a year or two, before taking action.
Women's eggs decline with age and the quality of these eggs is crucial to conception. The combination of egg quantity and egg quality constitutes a woman’s ovarian reserve.
Poor egg quality can contribute to age being the cause of infertility, however, egg quality alone does not guarantee infertility, and there are many treatments available to help increase fertility.
Even though fertility drops by half after the age of 35, the good news is that most women WILL be able to conceive after 35. There are some risks though, as women over the age of 35 are more at risk for certain complications during pregnancy. These include placental abnormalities and an increased risk of giving birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome. Many doctors recommend that women over 35 years old consider genetic testing to rule out birth defects during pregnancy.
Most women who conceive after 35 will find that their pregnancies aren't much different from those of younger women. They have fulfilling and rewarding pregnancies, and many become pregnant again.
During my research for my book I have come across many women who have had healthy babies in their mid to late 40s and even one in her 50s (with IVF).
Don't give up!
Most women are persuaded to try IVF, or to use donor eggs as an immediate solution, but there are many other treatments, amongst other things that one can try first, before opting for the more extreme medical options.