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Getting pregnant after 40 is possible without fertility treatment, but your chances of having trouble conceiving are higher. Another factor working against women in their 40s who want to get pregnant is the higher rate of miscarriage. Of course, you could try to look at this from the other side – even though 34% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women in their early 40s, the majority of pregnancies do not.
While it’s best not to put off trying to get pregnant until you are 40s, if you’re already there and wondering if it’s still possible for you, you should know it may still be.
Getting pregnant after 35 may be more difficult than at age 25, but it’s not necessarily impossible. If you follow the news, you’ve no doubt seen the myriad of features focusing on women waiting until after age 35 to have children and having trouble getting pregnant.
Way before menopause begins, our bodies’ reproductive capabilities slow down, becoming less effective at producing mature, healthy eggs.
This natural decline of fertility happens in the healthiest of women, though bad health habits, like smoking, have been shown to speed up the decline of fertility. Besides the ovaries being less likely to produce mature eggs for ovulation, age also increases the chances of genetic problems. Some couples may think that fertility treatment like IVF can help beat the decline of fertility that comes with age. According to statistics collected by the Center for Disease Control, the percentage of live births from IVF procedures using the mother’s eggs decreases with age.
Whether we like it or not, fertility in women begins to slowly decline in the late 20s, beginning a more rapid decline around age 35.
Because infertility is more likely after 40, and because with every year that passes your chances are lower, it’s important you seek help as soon as possible if you experience trouble conceiving.
Also, if you have any symptoms or risk factors for infertility, then you should speak to your doctor before you even start trying.
Another reason to see a doctor as soon as possible is that fertility treatments are less effective for women over 40.
IVF treatment has slight better success rates – 15% per cycle – but that’s still not as good as it is for younger women.
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You can compare this to woman in their early 20s, of which 7% experience infertility, or women in their early 30s, who experience infertility 15% of the time.
While a 30 year old has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month, a 40 year old only has a 5% chance per month. About 34% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women ages 40 to 44, and 53% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women after age 45.
As you age and come closer to menopause, your ovaries respond less well to the hormones that are responsible for helping the eggs ovulate.
Even though IVF success was less than 10% at age 40 using the mother’s own eggs, women who used an egg donor (from a much younger woman) at age 40 had a success rate of about 45%. Besides the decreased chance of getting pregnant, women after age 35 have an increased risk of miscarriage.
However, if you are having trouble, and you’re older than 35, you shouldn’t try on your own for longer than six months. Success rates for IVF with egg donation has 40 to 45% success rate per treatment cycle, regardless of age. Why is it more difficult than in your 20s and early 30s, and why do doctors recommend seeking help getting pregnant sooner than later if you’re past age 35?
From this huge number of eggs, only 300 will ever become mature and be released in the process known as ovulation. Fertility treatment success also decreases with age, specifically if the couple uses the woman’s eggs (as opposed to donor eggs).
For women age 43, the percentage of live births per IVF cycle is just 6.2% according to the most recent statistics, and only a little more than 1% after age 44.
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