When I went back to my trusty IVF clinic just months before my 40th birthday in pursuit of IVF baby #2, I didn’t realize how much harder it was going to be to find the golden egg. I had some vague notion that eggs get “worse” with age, but didn’t really know what that meant. No one was really talking about it.
In this guest post, Heidi Hayes dives into some of the myths and facts surrounding fertility in our 40’s. Heidi is the Executive Vice President of California Cryobank’s Donor Egg Bank. She has more than 20 years of healthcare experience and has worked extensively in the field of reproductive endocrinology. Having been unsuccessful at traditional IUI and IVF treatments, Heidi personally understands the struggles of infertility. After many years of trying to conceive, she ultimately built her family through adoption and donor egg treatment. She always believed that if she didn’t give up, her ultimate goal of becoming a parent would someday become a reality. You can connect with her here for more information.
Fact or Fiction: The Truth About Getting Pregnant in Your 40’s and Beyond
In a perfect world, human biology would allow women to conceive easily no matter their age. After all, every person is on their own timeline, and focusing on accomplishments like a career, travel, or finding the perfect partner can sometimes take precedence over getting pregnant. Unfortunately, biology often doesn’t work the way we wish it would. While there are many misconceptions about getting pregnant after 40, scientific research shows conceiving later in life can be increasingly difficult.
If you’re approaching your 40’s and are ready for a child, it’s crucial to understand the difference between reproductive facts and fiction.
Myth # 1: It’s Easy to Get Pregnant Naturally After 40
While there’s a chance for you to get pregnant after your 40th birthday, the likelihood of it naturally occurring is slim. In fact, studies show women over the age of 40 only have a 5% chance of conceiving each month. This difficulty is mostly a result of low ovarian reserves and poor egg quality.
Myth # 2: Healthy Women Don’t Have Fertility Issues
In most situations, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine is an excellent way to stay in shape and ward off potential ailments. However, no amount of running or kale will prevent your egg quality and number of eggs from deteriorating.
Every woman is born with a finite number of eggs. As she gets older, she loses some of those eggs every month. By the time she hits her late 30’s, her egg count will begin to decrease more quickly, making getting pregnant naturally harder to achieve.
Myth #3: I Can’t Get Pregnant Once I’ve Started Menopause
It’s a common misconception that menopause automatically means your days of conceiving are behind you. On the contrary, it’s entirely possible to get pregnant during its early stages.
While many women attribute menopause to the completion of their monthly periods, the process begins before this occurs. The perimenopausal stage lasts for approximately ten years and takes place before you stop having periods. During this time, you can get pregnant. However, the likelihood of this happening is quite small.
Myth #4: Age Doesn’t Affect a Man’s Fertility
The effect of age on a woman’s eggs is prevalently discussed in the medical community. However, this fact doesn’t mean women are the only ones who struggle. Male fertility is just as much of a risk factor in life.
Some of the effects age has on male fertility include:
- Change in sexual function
- Sperm motility
- Sperm morphology
- Seminal volume
Myth #5: Celebrities Don’t Deal with Infertility
Every year, mainstream pop culture shows us examples of famous women getting pregnant and having children later in life. While it’s possible some of them have gotten lucky and conceived naturally, there’s no miracle celebrity water to remedy infertility.
While some female celebrities have been open about their struggles with infertility, most treat it as the personal matter it is. Just because a celebrity is quiet about her conception difficulties, it doesn’t mean she didn’t suffer just as greatly as another aging woman.
Myth #6: Getting Pregnant After 40 Poses No Risk to the Baby
If a woman is blessed to become a mother after 40, the hard part is – regrettably – not over yet. Due to a variety of circumstances and conditions, older moms and their babies are at risk for several complications, such as:
- Low birth weights
- Chromosomal defects
- Premature birth
- Gestational diabetes
Myth #7: It’s Impossible to Have a Child After 40
While an older mother certainly faces more issues when trying to conceive, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Whether a woman can get pregnant naturally or not, there are options available for her to become a mother. Adoption and frozen donor egg IVF are two of the most popular alternatives used by couples and individuals.
Each of these solutions comes with a wide array of benefits; however, many women find egg donation to be their next best option.
When many women are ready to have a child, it’s not just the baby they’re looking forward to. A great number have patiently awaited the chance to carry a child and bring them into the world. With frozen donor egg IVF, they can turn this goal into a reality.
Getting Pregnant After 40: The Hard Truth
There’s no doubt about it; getting pregnant naturally after 40 is no easy task. If you’ve spent your life dreaming of having a family and finally feel ready, don’t let your age dissuade you from trying.
No matter what biology has to say on the subject, a life of lessons and experience make women in their 40s ideal candidates for motherhood. When you’ve blown out the candles on your 40th birthday cake, just remember: your next chapter as a family could be right around the corner.