These tips for getting pregnant in your 40s are infused with inspiration from a 51 year old woman who is enjoying a healthy, happy pregnancy. If you want to have a baby, you’re a woman over 40, and you’re considering in vitro fertilization (IVF), you’ll be inspired by Mary Beth’s story…
“I woke up one day at age 45 and wondered ‘Where did these last 20 years go??” says Mary Beth on The Best Way to Get Pregnant. “The decades just flew by! I’m ready to get pregnant and have a baby now.” If you’re in the same boat – reaching your 40s or 50s and wondering if you’ll ever get pregnant – read Mary Beth’s story below. She had in vitro fertilization at age 51 and is seven months pregnant.
In this article, you’ll find realistic – but admittedly a little depressing – facts about pregnancy for women after 40. I peppered “pregnant over 40” information from the Mayo Clinic amongst Mary Beth’s tips for a healthy pregnancy at age 51. I want you to be inspired and hopeful that you could get pregnant even after celebrating your 40th or 45th birthday…but I also want you to be prepared for the reality of getting pregnant after you turn forty.
6 Ways to Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant After 40
The good news is that yes, achieving a healthy successful pregnancy as a 40-year-old woman is possible without fertility treatments! But the bad news is that your chances of having trouble conceiving a baby are much higher. Of all women ages 40 to 44, 29% will experience infertility. In comparison, women in their early 20s only experience infertility 7% of the time. Women in their early 30s experience infertility 15% of the time.
As a woman over 40, your chances of pregnancy are lower then when you were younger. A 30-year-old woman has a 20% chance of getting pregnant every month; a 40-year-old woman only has a 5% chance of getting pregnant.
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1. Take a deep breath and be open to all your options
It is possible that you may not conceive, carry, and give birth to a child naturally, especially since women in their 40s have a higher rate of miscarriage. About 34% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women who are between the ages of 40 and 44. If you’re over 45 years old, your chances of a miscarriage rise to 53%. But if you look on the bright side, this means that you have about 75% chance of a successful healthy pregnancy if you’re younger than 44 years old.
There are ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant after you turn 40. Of course, there are no guarantees – but whatever you can do to improve your fertility and stay healthy is worth trying. That said, however, I encourage you to make peace with the possibility that you may not conceive a child naturally. You may consider adopting a child or putting your energies into other healthy aspects of life instead. This is what I mean when I say take a deep breath and be open to all your options.
Mary Beth, had you already grieved the idea of never having kids? “No, not really. I made conscious choices along the way to put my career first, knowing that child bearing would wait a while. Somehow I always felt that I would still have kids (either marrying a guy who already had a family…or would still somehow have my own).”
2. Learn as much as you can about ovulation and intercourse
Timing is everything when it comes to getting pregnant – whether or not you’re a woman over 40.
Read Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways to Improve Your Fertility Now and into Your 40s by Aimee Raupp. She is a nationally renowned womenÌs health and fertility expert who has helped hundreds of women optimize their fertility and get pregnant, even after age 40.
In this book she provides her complete program for improving your chances of conceiving and overcoming infertility, including the most effective complementary and lifestyle approaches and the latest nutritional advicefor women over 40 who want to get pregnant. Her remedies help you how to get in tune with your body, eat the best fertility-enhancing foods, and avoid environmental toxins to achieve a healthy and stress-free pregnancy. Aimee provides hope, scientifically-backed knowledge, and emotional support to help you become the mother you want to be.
3. Know your medical and gynecological history
Chances are you will have to visit a gynecologist or fertility doctor to achieve a healthy, successful pregnancy – especially if you are a woman over 45 years old. Be prepared to talk about your previous pregnancies, miscarriages, abortions, and gynecological history. It will help the doctor to know if you had problems in the past, such as preterm labor or high blood pressure. You will also need to share information about your menstrual cycles.
Your doctor or gynecologist will also discuss the causes of infertility for men and women during your first and subsequent visits. did you know that 33% of problems conceiving for couples are due to male factor infertility? This means that your husband or boyfriend’s sperm has a direct effect on whether or not you get pregnant as a woman over 40 This further means that your husband or boyfriend needs to get a sperm test or semen analysis done as soon as possible to determine if his swimmers are the reason you’re not getting pregnant.
Mary Beth, did you consider adopting or fostering children? “Yes. My husband and I discussed this in great depth. We decided to try the IVF route for three cycles. If that didn’t work, we were then going to enthusiastically pursue adopting kids.”
4. Review your prescription medications
Let’s face it, women over 40 have a higher chance of taking prescription medications and having health issues than women who are younger than 40. If you are taking medications that could affect your chances of conceiving a baby and having a healthy pregnancy, make sure you talk to your doctor about your different options before proceeding. You may have to make difficult decisions about your health and your baby’s safety when you’re trying to improve your chances of pregnancy over 40.
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Mary Beth, what advice would you give women coping with infertility? “Stay positive, give it time, keep an open mind and consider all options for infertile couples. Again – stay positive and optimistic! Consider what’s best for you and don’t listen to what your family and good friends are saying. Initially, my own mother was really against in vitro fertilization and wouldn’t even discuss it with me. I figured in due time she would come around when she was ready. And she is.”
5. Use an ovulation predictor kit
When I was trying to get pregnant, I found a home ovulation predictor kit to be the best way to time sex to improve our chances of conceiving a baby. Even though I was a 42 year old woman, I didn’t know when I was ovulating or how to measure my basal body temperature – which many fertility experts recommend. I found the ovulation predictor kit to be much easier.
An ovulation predictor kit measures luteinizing hormone or LH surges, and helps you know when to have intercourse. Ideally you should have sex the day before you ovulate in order for the sperm to meet the egg and happily join for a healthy pregnancy.
Another type of home ovulation predictor kit is the Ovulation Fertility Scope – Saliva Based – Lady Q Microscope that looks just like a lipstick tube. But this is no tube of red paint! This fertility scope is a precision, state-of-the-art, hand-held mini-microscope. You simply look at your dried saliva through the Lady-Q, and you’ll accurately determine your fertile period. All you have to do is lick the Lady-Q lens, allow your saliva to dry for 2 to 3 minutes, and then read the result. This ovulation monitor is a fertility test that can be done confidently anytime and anywhere. You’ll get accurate and in-depth test results for your baby-bearing period and ovulation period.
Mary Beth, when people discover that you’re 52 and pregnant, what reaction do you get? “My husband and I knew what was best for the two of us…and we didn’t seriously listen to anyone else’s comments. Almost everyone was excited for us to be trying to get pregnant over age 40, but a few weren’t. Most people say ‘Wow, that’s incredible. That’s awesome and you are brave for going through with a pregnancy after turning 50 years old!!’ A very few say, ‘You are out of your mind.’ But we know having a baby is the right decision for us as a family. My husband and I have been married 2½ years. I just turned 52 and my husband will soon be 52.”
6. Consider a fertility treatment such as in vitro fertilization
How do you know when to get fertility help? Since every year that passes, your chances of conceiving a baby is a 40-year-old woman get lower and lower. Thus, it’s important for you to seek help from a gynecologist or fertility doctor as soon as possible if you’re trying to conceive. If you have been trying to have a baby for six months and you’re still not pregnant, you should get your 40-year-old bottom to the fertility doctor as soon as possible.
Fertility treatments are less effective for women after 40. For example intrauterine insemination treatments are as low as 5% for women in their 40s. In vitro fertilization or IVF success rates can be as high as 15% per cycle. Unfortunately, this rate falls quickly as each month and year goes by. Different fertility clinics have different success rates of fertility treatment such as in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination. Different fertility clinics also have different ways to measure and calculate their success rates.
Mary Beth, what made you decide to try in vitro fertilization (IVF) at age 51? “After changing my life around so that I wasn’t so focused on my career, I met a wonderful man when I was 46 and at age 47 it was very serious. That’s when we started speaking with fertility doctors to see what our baby choices were. They told me choices were 1) still use my eggs (small chance of getting and carrying a pregnancy) or 2) consider donor eggs. So, we tried in vitro fertilization.”
Whether your pregnancy was meticulously and carefully planned, medically because such as by in vitro fertilization treatments, or happened by surprise, your life will never be the same.
And finally, I asked Mary Beth what would surprise people to learn about getting pregnant in your 40s or 50s… “That it still can happen! As a woman over 40 or 50, keep yourself in the best possible health and stay positive! So far (7 months along) I have felt GREAT. I never had morning sickness and still haven’t had a day yet of feeling pregnant. That’s more than my younger sisters could say about their pregnancies 20 years ago when they were in their 20s.”
If your dream is to achieve a healthy successful pregnancy as a woman after 40, read 15 Things You Need to Know About Pregnancy After 40.
If you have any thoughts on getting pregnant in your 40s or 50s, please comment below. I can’t offer health or medical advice – please see your fertility doctor if you’re trying to get pregnant – but I welcome your stories and tips.
To learn more, read How Old is Too Old to Have a Baby? Pregnancy After 35 on the Mayo Clinic blog.