It is becoming increasingly more common for women to get pregnant after 40 and this number has almost doubled in the last decade. As we tend to settle down later in life, having a baby at 40 can give couples the chance to wait until they are more financially and emotionally ready to have a child.
Although it’s completely possible to have a baby after 40, the chances of getting pregnant and conceiving are reduced. Read our guide on having a baby at 40 to find out how your fertility is impacted, what your chances of getting pregnant at 40 are and what to expect from pregnancy and labour whilst being 40.
Fertility over 40
As we get older fertility changes for both women and men. However, men produce sperm throughout their whole lives, whereas women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and they will lose them during their life. Read our article on how many eggs does a woman have here.
From age 30 onwards, fertility starts to decline, particularly after 35. Most women will continue to have regular 26-35 day menstruation cycles into their late 30s and early 40s. After this time, cycles may become shorter and as women start to skip ovulation, periods will also be missed. Eventually, periods cease completely and once this has been the case for a full year, this is menopause. The average age for menopause is 51 and this means women will be unable to have a baby. Fertility can be expected to end up to 5-10 years before menopause.
Reduced fertility in women is not only due to having less eggs, the quality of eggs also declines with age. Chromosomal abnormalities increase, which can cause birth defects, lower chance of pregnancy and higher chance of miscarriage, which becomes roughly a one-in-two risk after the age of 45.
Other things that can affect your fertility and ability to conceive as you grow older include, ovaries being unable to release eggs properly and other age-related health conditions that may reduce fertility.
There are things you can do to increase your fertility at any age.
So, what are your chances of getting pregnant at 40?
Your chances of getting pregnant after 40 depends on a few different things – most importantly, how far into your 40s you are! In your 20s your chance of conceiving naturally after trying for 6 months is around 45% and reduces to 35% when you are in your 30s. The chances of a woman getting pregnant naturally at 40 reduces to just over 20%, which reduces even further to 10% by the time you are in your mid-40s. Women who are older than 45 years old only have a 5% chance of conceiving naturally.
However, there are multiple fertility treatments available such as IVF and IUI that can really increase your chances of getting pregnant over 40. And if you consider using donor eggs, this can increase your chances more.
Pregnancy at 40
It’s definitely possible to have a baby safely after 40, however it is considered high risk. There are risks with pregnancy as it is and may put a strain on any woman’s body. However, as some joints and bones are already starting to lose mass after 40, aches and pains might be increased. Pregnancy related fatigue may increase also. Other ailments such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes may become more likely.
Whilst pregnant you will need to be monitored closely for the following:
– High blood pressure, as this may case preeclampsia
– Gestational diabetes
– Ectopic pregnancy
Your baby will also need to be monitored closely for:
– Birth defects
– Low birth weight
Giving birth at 40
Vaginal delivery is possible at 40 however, again it is less likely as it poses more challenges the older you get and increases the risk of birth injury to baby and or mum. Other medical conditions, such as preeclampsia may also mean it may be safer to have a caesarean.