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Conception, Pregnancy and Healthy Child Birth for Women Over 40

Conception, Pregnancy and Healthy Child Birth for Women Over 40


Fertility declines with age in women and odds of getting pregnant are lower after reaching 40 years, although this varies per person. Health experts say it is nearly impossible to become pregnant after 45 years of age. Many women above 40 years turn to fertility treatments in order to conceive. Regardless of your age, pregnancy has its own advantages and disadvantages. According to fertility specialists, trying to get pregnant after the age of 40 can be harder because your egg supply decreases as you get older, and older eggs may have chromosomal problems, increasing the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.


Drop in Fertility

In reference to Julia Johnson, an infertility specialist and chairperson of obstetrics and gynecology at Umass ZMemorial Medical Center, there is a steep drop in fertility starting from at the age of 40. She adds that you have better chances of conceiving at 41 than you would if you are 43. In reference to a study published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers found out that 40-year-old women who received infertility treatments had a 25% chance of conceiving using their own eggs. However, from the age of 43, the number dropped to 10%. Out of the women who got pregnant, the miscarriage rate was 245 for 40-year-olds, 38% for 43-year-olds and 54% for 44-year-olds.

Odds of Conceiving  

In reference to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of women above 40 years have fertility problems. Your chance of conceiving at any single ovulation cycle is 5%, in reference to Sherman Silber, of the Infertility Center of St. Louis at S. Luke’s Hospital in Missouri. In one year, your chance of conceiving at 40 is about 40% to 50% compared to a woman aged mid 30s. At 43, your chance plummets to 1% to 2%. Silber says that the steep drop off has everything to do with the eggs. At puberty, a woman has about 300,000 to 500,000 eggs which get lost at a rate of 13,000 a year. By the age of 37, you will only have around 25,000 eggs. According to Silber, your chances of conceiving at 43 are slim because you are at the end of your egg supply.

Pregnancy Complications

Your chances of getting miscarriages also increase sharply after the age of 40. At 40, the rate is 34% and it rises to 53% at 45 years. Your risk of pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes also increases from 35 years. In addition, genetic problem may also jump as you grow older. The chance of getting a child with Down syndrome is 1 for every 100 in women aged over 40 years. This is mainly because genetic problems increase with age. It is the main reason why experts recommend detailed fetal screening for pregnant women aged above 40 years. Tests conducted include cell-free fetal DNA blood tests, advanced ultrasound, chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. An expectant woman above the age of 40 years is more likely to deliver surgically because of delivery complications. Stillbirths and low-weight births are also common.

Technological Advances

Scientists have come up with various assisted reproductive technologies (ART) methods which can enable a woman get pregnant at an older age. However, in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates fall if a woman uses her own eggs if aged over 35 years, but it can be successful using donor eggs. If you are in your 40s and use a donor egg from a person in 20s, risk of chromosomal defects and miscarriage are consistent with the donor age.

Getting Pregnant After 40 Years

If you want to get a normal pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby, you take some important steps before you try to conceive.

  • Contact a fertility specialist if you don’t conceive even after having unprotected sex two to three times every week for six months.
  • Contact qualified physician if you get irregular or missed periods, ovulation problems, or problems with your partner’s sperms.

Most specialists carry out tests to find out what could be interfering with your ovary function. They also evaluate your fallopian tube or your partner’s sperms. If no problems are found, your infertility could be attributed to age and declining quality of your eggs. Talk with your doctor to come up with a solution depending on your personal circumstances.


Fertility in a woman declines sharply after the age of 40. Pregnancy and birth complications are also common for women who conceive from this age. Luckily, with latest technological advances, you can conceive form your own eggs or donor egg and get a healthy baby with few or no complications. If you are a woman above the age of 40 planning to get pregnant, contact a fertility specialist before you even try to conceive. 

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