There are many socioeconomic and health reasons why more women are getting pregnant after 40 today than ever before – women choose to have a fulfilling career before settling down to motherhood, choosing to delay pregnancies; societal norms having sufficiently relaxed to permit this now.
Equally, women today are better nourished and in better health than at any time in history, making it physically possible for older women to become pregnant and carry their pregnancy to term successfully.
Possible risks involved in getting pregnant after 40
Fertility decreases in inverse proportion to a woman’s age – the older she gets the less are her chances of getting pregnant; an estimated two thirds of all women in their 40’s have problems with fertility.
This is because at age 40, a woman has only about 10% of the eggs that she did at puberty and has a less than 50% chance of conceiving within a year of starting to try to get pregnant.
At about age 43 the average woman has just about reached the end of her egg supply.
On the other hand, the risk of having a pregnancy end in miscarriage or there being some other pregnancy complications rises in direct proportion to a woman’s age – the older a woman is, the riskier her pregnancy.
Likelihood of problems such as placenta previa or other placental problems, gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, hemorrhage after delivery etc increase significantly in becoming pregnant after 40. Chances of suffering through a still birth or having a baby with Down’s also increases with a woman’s age.
Due to the declining quality of and number of eggs that a woman produces, an assisted pregnancy is more likely to be required when trying to get pregnant after 40. And even with assisted pregnancy, such as in vitro fertilization, the chances of ending up having an ectopic pregnancy are higher.
So what are the options available for getting pregnant after 40?
A woman in her early forties will typically be advised to try to get pregnant by having frequent unprotected sex for about three months, and then if a pregnancy doesn’t result a fertility specialist will be referred to.
At this point, tests will be done to determine what is preventing conception – lack of ovulation, problems with the fallopian tubes, or even problems with the male partner such as low sperm count and so on.
Since the declining quality and quantity of eggs is the main problem facing women who want get pregnant in their 40’s using the egg from a donor is one option available to them. In fact according to some experts, it is practically impossible for a woman to get pregnant using her own eggs after the age of 46.
There are several options available for getting pregnant after 40 – fertility treatments including hormonal and other medical treatments can be explored by consulting with a specialist to see what options will work best given a woman’s age, fitness, general health and overall reasons for opting for an assisted pregnancy.