There was a time when having a child after 40 was almost unheard of. These days, however, it’s becoming increasingly common as women wait to establish their lives before heading down the road to motherhood. Also adding to these numbers is the fact that fertility issues related to illnesses, such as cancer, used to prevent women from ever having children. Now, once women come out the other side of their illnesses, they have new avenues for starting a family later in life.
Although medical and reproductive science have opened up the opportunities for older women to have children, there are still some things you need to consider if you want to start a family after 40.
Here at Innovative Fertility Preservation and IVF, Dr. Kutluk Oktay is a global leader in reproductive medicine, helping women in New York, and from around the world, successfully navigate fertility issues, including those related to advanced maternal age.
If you’re over 40 and you’d like to learn more about having a baby, here’s a look at the challenges, as well as what we can do about them.
One of the biggest obstacles to having a baby after the age of 40 is fertility. Each woman is born with a finite number of eggs, which begin to release after puberty. During your 20s, your fertility levels are at their highest, both in terms of the quality and quantity of your eggs.
Once you enter your 30s, your chance of conceiving each month begins to gradually decline. At 30, you have a 20% chance of getting pregnant in any given month, while at 40, this number drops to just 5%. And every year after 40, your odds of conceiving continue to decline.
A miscarriage is a pregnancy that ends within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Though studies show that 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, with advanced maternal age, this risk increases exponentially. To wit, between the ages of 40-44, 34% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. After 45, this number jumps to 53%. These numbers shouldn’t discourage you, however, especially if you read them in reverse: 66% of pregnancies between the ages of 40 and 44 don’t end up with a miscarriage.
Let’s face it; your body is designed to give birth when it’s at its peak physical health during your 20s and low 30s. As you get older, you need to be more concerned about potential health issues, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. For example, preeclampsia rates for all pregnant women hover between 3 and 4%. After 40, this number climbs to between 5 and 10%.
It’s important that you check with your healthcare providers to make sure your body is in the proper shape for this nine-month journey.
Another consideration for women who want to have children over 40 is that the chances of genetic abnormalities increase. As an example, at 20, your child has a 1 in 2,000 chance of having Down syndrome. At 40, this number increases to 1 in 100. Rest assured, if you’re pregnant in your 40s, your obstetrician will likely recommend testing, such as an amniocentesis, to reveal whether your child might be at risk.
We realize that we’ve piled up many reasons why getting pregnant after 40 might prove to be more challenging, but we want to reiterate that it may be more challenging, but far from impossible. Women all over the globe bear healthy, happy children without consequence in their 40s.
Since the number one problem facing women who want to have a child after 40 is fertility, there’s a lot we can do to help. Dr. Oktay is one of the leading experts in egg preservation, in vitro fertilization, and fertility treatments and has helped women of all ages overcome enormous obstacles in order to build beautiful families.
If you’d like to explore the possibilities of having children after 40, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool to book an appointment. We’re happy to sit down with you to review your options and your best chances for success.