Your Biological Clock: Fertility in your 40’s
The Biological Clock. Those three little words can have quite an impact, depending on who you say them to. A woman in her 20s will hardly pay attention unless she’s a tried-and-true career woman considering fertility preservation for the future. A woman in her early 30’s may feel a tiny quickening of fear, but she probably feels more irritated with whoever’s reminding her of the obvious. By the 40s, however, most women should have a great deal of respect for the reality of their Biological Clock; it’s no myth. Fertility in your 40’s can feel like an upward climb in more ways than one.
Fertility in Your 40’s: The Very Real Effects of the Biological Clock
Yes, there are women who conceive naturally (without using the assistance of a fertility specialist) in their 40s, but they are not the norm. In fact, many of the pregnancies that happen to women in their 40s occur accidentally as the result of growing lax with birth control habits because they assumed their biological clock had stopped.
While your biological clock hasn’t usually stopped ticking altogether by age 40, your odds of getting pregnant decline dramatically. For example, your chances of getting pregnant at 30 are pretty close to your chances of getting pregnant at 33 (approximately 75%). However, your chances of getting pregnant at 43 are much less than that of getting pregnant at age 40 (10% versus 25%, respectively). And, of course, with each birthday after 35, the chances of having a baby with some sort of genetic disorder increases as well.
What do I do If I want to conceive a baby after 40?
There are a few things you can do to increase your odds of getting pregnant after 40.
Start tracking your menstrual cycle. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start meticulously charting your cycle by keeping track of when you have your period. This will help you to establish when you are ovulating. In addition to the traditional marks on a calendar and rudimentary math, there are plenty of apps or ovulation predictor kits to help you. The good news is that sperm live for up to five days inside a woman’s body. Rather than waiting until you ovulate, start having sex at least once a day for the several days leading up to ovulation.
Schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist. In most cases, you may want to do this step first. A physical and work-up with a fertility specialist can ensure neither of you have any issues that might make natural conception more of a challenge and/or downright impossible. Time is of the essence so anything that can be determined now, such as low sperm count or motility, PCOS or endometriosis, will help you to make the best choices as to how you should precede.
Study IVF success rates. Start studying IVF success rates and other statistics pertaining to various reproductive technologies. In addition to helping you select the best clinic, you’ll begin to make sense of which fertility treatments are most likely to be successful based on your age and/or fertility diagnosis. While some may choose to begin with standard artificial insemination (clinically referred to as intrauterine insemination (IUI)), others might decide to go ahead and pursue in-vitro fertilization (IVF) from the start. We are very proud of our success rates at RRC.
Explore the option of using donor eggs. While we understand the strong desire to use your own eggs, women in their 40s are wise to read up and learn all they can about the use of donor eggs. IVF is a complex procedure; it can be very emotionally stressful not to mention financially demanding if your insurance plan doesn’t cover it. The fact is that women who use donor eggs have the same rate of IVF success as women in that particular IVF age bracket. Meaning, if you are 43 and you opt to use eggs donated by a woman who is 25, you will benefit from the same success rate as a 25-year old woman who undergoes IVF using her own eggs.
If you are beginning to experience the trials and tribulations of getting pregnant in your 40s, schedule a consultation with Dr. Brabec or Dr. Phipps so you can begin to learn more about your options. Don’t let your biological clock get the best of you.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.