Things to know when trying to conceive in your 40s
getting pregnant at the age of 40 is probably more common than you think, although it is a fact that the body faces some unique challenges during pregnancy as a woman ages.
However, if you are trying to conceive at an older age, you should be aware that although fertility naturally declines as you age, it is possible to get pregnant after the age of 40.
If you’re still getting your periods, there’s a chance you could get pregnant, although you have a much lesser chance of conceiving naturally once you celebrate your 40th birthday than earlier in your reproductive years.
There is about a five percent chance during your menstrual cycle that you can get pregnant naturally once you are in your 40s. Compare this to a 25 percent chance per cycle when she was 20, when her fertility was at its peak.
There are many reasons for the decline in the pregnancy success rate after age 40. The miscarriage rate is around 40 percent after age 40. This can be for many reasons, but the main reason is that there is a higher chance of genetic abnormality in each egg.
As a woman, your ovarian reserve also decreases over time, meaning you have fewer eggs left by the time you turn 40. The story about the ova has been told several times. When you were born, your ovaries contain all the eggs you would ever have, about a million in all. This number decreases as you get older because you normally lose about 30 immature eggs a day. And it’s not just you; This is what every woman of reproductive age experiences.
By the time you reach puberty, your ovaries will contain around 300,000 eggs; and at age 30, you’re down to 100,000. At 40, you won’t have more than 20,000 eggs left, and these are more than enough for your fertility needs.
Your ovarian reserve can be assessed with a blood test called an anti-Mullerian hormone test. AMH is a hormone produced by the follicles in the ovaries, where eggs develop. This decreases throughout their reproductive life. The lower your AMH number, the fewer eggs will remain in your ovarian reserve. But the AMH test result says nothing about the quality of the remaining eggs.
The percentage of normal eggs that every woman has decreases as she ages. After the age of 40, the percentage of genetically abnormal eggs increases. This means that even if those eggs are fertilized, the pregnancy may not end in a live or genetically normal baby.
Clinically, at age 25, a woman has about 75 percent normal eggs. At age 35, that number drops to around 45 percent, and at age 40, it’s around 20 to 30 percent. This is one of the reasons most doctors recommend genetic testing for abnormal conditions in pregnant women after the age of 40.
In addition to the natural decline in fertility, another challenge you may face as a woman over the age of 40 is being diagnosed with other conditions that can cause pregnancy complications and/or make it more difficult to get pregnant. You are at risk if you are obese, hypertensive, diabetic, or have thyroid disorders, fibroids, and endometriosis.
If you have other medical conditions, you should make sure your doctor knows that you are trying to conceive so that your health can be properly optimized to prepare for pregnancy. A preconception counseling appointment with your regular gynecologist can help identify areas for improvement and provide you with personalized recommendations.
Remember that help is available if you have not become pregnant. Your fertility specialist can help with fertility problems, so don’t overlook consulting with a specialist about the options available to you.