There was a time, a few generations ago, when women over the age of 35, let alone 40, dare not plan to become pregnant. The risk to mother and baby increased with each passing year. Today there are many ways to ensure the health of both mother and baby and healthy pregnancies among women who are over 35, and even well into their 40’s have increased in the past few decades.
While the majority of childbearing is still primarily among women in their 20’s and 30’s, the U.S. birthrate has declined. In the 40-45 age group, however, births have increased. Obviously it can be difficult to conceive after the age of 40, but with the help of advanced reproductive technologies more couples are realizing the dream of growing their families happily and healthfully.
How Being Over 40 Affects Your Fertility
As a woman, you are born with all the eggs you will ever have. As each year passes, through menstruation and as you age, the quantity and quality of your eggs decrease. There are other issues, certainly, which may compromise your fertility as you get older. So, if you are over the age of 40 and hoping to add to your family there are some fertility facts you need to know.
The biggest threat to your fertility as you age is the quality of your eggs. In order to become pregnant you need to release eggs which are viable. This means eggs that can be fertilized successfully, are free from chromosomal abnormalities, and are able to implant into the uterus. As you and your eggs age the quality diminishes greatly.
If your eggs are deemed unviable, or you want to improve your odds for a healthy and successful pregnancy, it may be wise to consider using donor eggs. These are eggs which have been harvested from young, reproductively healthy women and are predetermined to be viable for fertilization.
The average age for a woman to cease experiencing her menstrual cycle is 51. However, menopause can occur naturally anytime between the ages of 45 and 55. In the years leading up to the cessation of your menstrual cycle, you may find your periods change a bit. They may become more, or less frequent, they may be heavier or lighter and you could be experiencing many of the common menopause-related symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood swings. This is due to a fluctuation in your hormones.
The unpredictability of your menstrual cycle and the fluctuation of your hormones can impact your ovaries ability to release eggs. This can make it very difficult to conceive, obviously. There are fertility medications which balance hormones and increase your odds for conception. Your physician will discuss the option of fertility meds and other interventions, to improve your odds for pregnancy.
Pregnancy Risks to Mother and Baby
When a woman does successfully become pregnant over 40, she is considered to be high risk. Being over 40 puts you at risk for complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Women of advanced maternal age are also at greater risk for miscarriage, chromosomal abnormalities, preterm labor, and other birth defects.
Genetic counseling will provide you and your physician with a better understanding of the risks involved in pregnancy over 40. With IVF, which gives you the best possible opportunity for a healthy and successful pregnancy, you can opt to have your embryos screened for chromosomal abnormalities, lowering the risk for birth defect, as well as loss of the pregnancy.
Meet With Your Doctor
Even if 40 is the new 30 your biological clock doesn’t always react to popular opinions. Fertility can be a tricky endeavor at any age. For women trying to conceive over 40, it makes sense to meet with a fertility expert and possibly schedule some testing to find out your best options.
What You Can Do For Your Fertility
For women over 40 who are trying to conceive it is imperative that you be in your best possible health. Improve your lifestyle and cut out smoking and alcohol use. Make sure you are of a healthy body weight. Obesity as well as being underweight, will further complicate your fertility. Endeavor to eat as clean and healthy as possible, avoiding processed foods and foods that are high in added sugar.
Now is an excellent time to begin taking supplements directly related to your reproductive health and fertility. Here is a link to our preferred source for fertility-specific supplements for both mom and dad. And don’t forget exercise and movement, a wonderful way to stay limber, lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and bust stress, which directly affects your fertility. Remember, you both need to be in the best shape of your life in order to have a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and enjoy all those wonderful years ahead.