A Christmas Miracle: child-bearing in your 40s

If someone told you 50-60 years ago that you would child-bearing in your 40s, you would probably laugh, right? 

In 2022 though, there are women who consciously decide to have a baby at the age of 40 or more. Do they have specific reasons to do so? First of all, it is every woman’s right to choose if and when she will get pregnant. Neither the family circle nor society should force her to do it sooner. A woman in her late 30s is probably more mature mentally, physically, and financially. By midlife, she has maybe checked off a lot of goals, from education and career to travel, etc. And she is now more ready to focus on building a family and devote more time to her children.

a pregnant woman holding purple flowers in front of her belly
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But getting pregnant is not an easy task. You don’t wake up saying you want a child and later on, a stork delivers you one. It needs time, inner strength, persistence, and specific health standards to be checked. 

Let’s set some things straight. The number of egg cells you have decreased significantly after the age of 35. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the number drops from 25,000 at age 37 to just 1,000 at age 51. So, there are significantly fewer eggs to fertilize, and from those left some may be unhealthy, or ovaries won’t be able to release the eggs properly or the risk of miscarriage will be bigger as time goes by. Scientists have discovered that about 34% of pregnancies in women who are between the ages of 40 and 44 end in miscarriage. For women over the age of 45, the rate of miscarriage is 53%. 

Another issue women in their 40s may have to deal with, is menopause and perimenopause, and that surely affect possible child-bearing. The average age of menopause in the UK is around 51, but 45-55 is still considered to be within the normal range. It is useful to search when your mother went through menopause and if she had a history of fibroids, miscarriages, or other gynecological issues. Premature ovarian insufficiency and impending early menopause can significantly reduce the chances of getting pregnant. During perimenopause, women tend to ovulate less frequently and their periods are more spaced out which also reduces chances of conceiving. Other issues you may face during your pregnancy are blood pressure problems, the possibility of gestational diabetes, chromosome anomalies for the fetus, or an increased risk of preeclampsia, which may necessitate a cesarean delivery.

All the above might sound intimidating but truth be told, women have successfully conceived after the age of 40.  The risk of failure is indeed bigger as you grow older, but with the right guidance, everything is possible. After all, assisted reproduction does wonders nowadays. If you are having problems conceiving naturally, there are some ways to help you.

  1. IVF, the method in which a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs are combined outside of the body in a laboratory dish.
  2. IVF with egg donation, same procedure with the IVF, only here the eggs are sourced from a friend or an anonymous donor or an egg bank. This method, especially in the age range we are talking about in this article, is the most effective one.
  3. Ovarian rejuvenation, the newest revolutionary method. It reduces menopause symptoms and gives you the opportunity to conceive naturally or via IVF.
  4. ICSI, where the selected sperm is directly injected into the egg.

You will find everything you need to know about these treatments in our previous articles.

Meanwhile, genetic predisposition and age-related decline will have a significant impact on your fertility. There are lifestyle changes you can make that may improve your chances of getting pregnant. Emma Cannon, fertility expert, registered acupuncturist, and founder of the Emma Cannon Clinic says that regular exercise, healthy nutrition, and stable body weight is essential for improving your overall health and your chances of conceiving; obese women may have too much estrogen due to too much body fat, which can contribute to fertility problems and low body fat can cause ovulation to stop. “Abstain from alcohol whilst you’re trying for a baby, not just once you are pregnant. Cut out  smoking before you hit 40 – smoking accounts for 13% of the world’s infertility and ages you by 10 years infertility terms.” Cannon also recommends acupuncture, which has been shown to have a regulating effect on the body, improving pelvic blood flow and endometrial quality: “Research has shown it to be effective in improving IVF outcomes and stimulating ovulation in women who are not ovulating.” She also recommends increasing vitamin D intake which can help make the uterus more receptive. With age comes wisdom and tolerance. Problems you had when you were younger may now seem easier to handle, and that is why getting pregnant at an advanced age for some women seems the best choice. You know your body, your limits, your strength, and you communicate better your wants and needs. Additionally, if you have a trusted and caring doctor by your side, to guide you through your fertility journey and explain the risks and chances, everything will go as planned. Whatever your reasons for wanting a baby later in life, it is important to remember that every woman’s situation is different and that it is your choice and only. And most importantly, enjoy this special time in your life, because time only runs forward.

Shout out to Rebel Wilson, a Hollywood actor, and comedian, who openly confessed she wants to start a family in her 41s. She started freezing her eggs in 2020 and she actually turned that year her “Year of Health”. So while she was trying to become healthier in order for the procedure to be successful, she recently shared some bad news with her followers on Instagram. Despite trying to be healthy and cautious, she still struggles with infertility. She stays strong though and concludes: “The universe works in mysterious ways, and sometimes it all doesn’t make sense…but I hope there’s light about to shine through all the dark clouds.” After her confession, many women found the courage to speak up about their infertility issues and that led to a powerful circle of love and compassion.

From our end, MEDIPASS will be here to give you all the support you need. As we’ve mentioned before, getting pregnant and child-bearing can be challenging at any age, but that should not stop you from trying. Speak up, explore your options, talk to us and your doctors and never give up on your dreams. 

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A Christmas Miracle: child-bearing in your 40s
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