There is no escaping the fact that maternal age matters when you’re trying to conceive. And, recent evidence indicates age a male partner’s age matters as well. So, while it’s possible to get pregnant in your 40s, the reality is that it’s much more challenging to conceive, and your risk of conceiving a baby with chromosomal or genetic disorders is elevated.
RRC’s own Dr. Brabec was recently interviewed about this exact topic. Click Here to listen to her interview, where she shared important health-related fertility tips.
The Chances of Getting Pregnant in Your 40s drops to 1%
When couples without any known infertility factors try to get pregnant at home, their chances in any given month are directly correlated to the woman’s age:
- In your 20s, you have about a 15% chance of getting pregnant the first month you try
- By your mid-30s, you have about a 9% chance of conceiving in any given month
- In your 40s, your chance of getting pregnant the first month you try to conceive dive to just 1%
So, regardless of what the grocery store aisle magazines say about Hollywood stars getting pregnant in their late-40s and 50-s, we don’t recommend waiting that long. Read, Pregnancy in the Media: A Distorted Perception, for more on that topic. In almost all of those cases, wealthy women took full financial advantage of assisted reproductive technology – and most couples simply don’t have the resources to pursue countless cycles of IVF.
Consider Freezing Your Eggs if You’re Waiting Until 40
If you’re planning to wait until you are 38-years or older to have a baby, we recommend consulting with a fertility specialist to discuss fertility preservation options. Using the combination of a routine physical, evaluation of your current, historical and family medical histories, and running a couple of key tests (AMH and FSH screening), we can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for egg freezing.
Waiting until you’re approaching 40 to get pregnant poses multiple issues:
- Diminished ovarian reserve that makes it challenging to get pregnant at all (hence that 1% figure noted above)
- Diminished egg quality, which means your eggs are more prone to forming fetuses with chromosomal or genetic abnormalities
- Higher risk of miscarriage
- A pregnancy that is considered “high risk” from the outset because of your age and the elevated health risks that go along with what physicians refer to as “advanced maternal age” (gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia).
Read, Why Age Matters When You’re Trying to Have a Baby for more specifics.
Fertility Chances Live in the Age of the Eggs
Women are born with their eggs already formed, which means your eggs are the same age as you are now. When you opt to freeze your eggs, you also get to freeze, or “pause,” the fertility chances that are associated with the age of the.
In this case, though, you’d be using IVF, rather than unassisted conception at home, so we use IVF success rates to determine your chances of fertility success – based on the age you were when your eggs were frozen. We also recommend working with a fertility clinic that has a history of high, IVF success rates with frozen eggs/embryos. Whenever possible, we suggest starting your family before, or around, your mid-30s to optimize your chances of overall fertility success.
If, however, career, academic or lifestyle plans simply don’t accommodate that timeline, freezing your eggs in your early to later 30s (30 to 37 is the optimal window) offers exponentially higher fertility rates than if you wait until 40 to get pregnant at home or via IVF. Egg freezing and IVF also offer the advantage of preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), which minimizes the chances of giving birth to a baby with chromosomal or genetic birth defects.
Interested in learning more about how to optimize your fertility chances at 40 and beyond? Contact us here at the Reproductive Resource Center in Kansas City.