The average age for first-time mothers in the US and UK has been steadily rising for decades. Due to the increasing cost of living, more education (& debt), and growing career opportunities for women – along with a slew of other reasons – it’s no surprise that many people are now waiting until they feel more financially stable to grow their families. In many cases, this means that women may not start trying to have children until their 40s.
While there are some health risks to pregnancy as you age, we wanted to take a minute to review the facts about fertility in your 40s. Not sure what you need to know, why it may be harder to get pregnant, or signs to watch out for? Read on…
Talk to Your Doctor
Getting pregnant in your 40s isn’t as easy, but it is doable. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is possible, and there are steps you can take to be sure you’re in the best position to conceive.
If you’re serious about conceiving in your 40s, it’s important to talk to your doctor early. After three to six months of trying (depending on where you are), they may refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist or specialist to do some routine tests. These results will help arm you with the right information to take the next steps, whether that means continuing to try naturally or beginning fertility treatment.
Chances of Getting Pregnant
It’s certainly not impossible to conceive after 40, but as you age, your chances of getting pregnant naturally do begin to decrease. This begins in your 20s and continues until you reach menopause. While a 30-year old woman has a ~20% chance of getting pregnant each month, this likelihood decreases to only 5% for a 40-year old.
However, these are just averages, so it’s important to talk to your doctor early if you are considering getting pregnant in your 40s as they will be able to give you a better understanding of your true fertility. Additionally, if you’ve already had a child, that can drastically change your body and potentially make it harder to conceive again. This is known as secondary infertility – you can learn more here.
Male Age Also Matters
Often when we talk about fertility, we are focused more on the woman who will be carrying the child. However, male age also matters as the quality of sperm can decrease over time. Make sure your partner (or donor) is doing these seven things to keep their sperm healthy. One you may not have known: hot tubs (or even really hot baths) can lead to fertility problems! But don’t worry – these problems are often only temporary.
Supplements & Vitamins
It is recommended that any woman thinking about conceiving should start taking prenatal vitamins, or at least folic acid, at least one month before you start trying to get pregnant. This ensures your body has vital nutrients needed to support a pregnancy and can help reduce the risk of some birth defects.
In women over 40, doctors may recommend additional vitamins, supplements, or ever prescriptions to help prepare your body for pregnancy and reduce your risk of miscarriage. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – including reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, avoiding high sugars, and getting regular exercise – may also help you conceive faster.
Track Your Cycle
Before you even see your doctor, tracking both your menstrual and ovulation cycles can empower you with information about your own body. This information can help inform when you should try to conceive, or provides data you can show to your doctor down the line.
Some ovulation monitors can help make this process less daunting by collecting this data for you and syncing it with your phone in order to track trends. OvuSense is one example, as it can predict your fertile window in advance and confirm that ovulation took place with 99% accuracy. This takes the guesswork out of reading strips and manually trying to calculate your ovulation date. Learn more about how OvuSense compares to other fertility tools here.
Older Moms, Healthy Babies (Stanford Children’s Health)
Your Chances of Getting Pregnant at Every Age (Parents.com)