Becoming a Mom Later in Life: How Difficult is Getting Pregnant After 40?

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Biological clock ticking - woman holding clock in front of stomach. Biological clock and pregnancy concept with female hands and belly.

No matter how youthful 30 feels, current fertility studies overwhelm us with facts about our fertility declining as soon as our 20s come to an end.

While these facts are grounded in truth, our current society encourages women to focus on more than just motherhood. Instead of marrying and “settling down” in their early 20s, many women are choosing to reach new heights in their careers, travel the world, or simply “wait for Mr. Right” longer than what was expected back in their mothers’ and grandmothers’ generations.

But how does this affect our ability to have children? What are the truths and myths about pregnancy over forty?

The Reality of Having a Baby in Your Forties

Women today have goals beyond getting pregnant.

We strive to climb the corporate ladder, yearn to see the world, and refuse to settle for less than the best in the romance department – but for most of us, the day will still come when we’re ready to have kids.

While conceiving after 40 isn’t impossible, there are still risks to consider.

Not only is getting pregnant naturally later in life more difficult due to low egg reserves and quality, it can also be harder to sustain a healthy pregnancy and delivery without complications.

Here are just a few of the risks that come with having children in your 40s:

  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature delivery
  • Chromosomal defects i.e. Down Syndrome
  • Higher risk of developing high blood pressure and/or diabetes during pregnancy

It’s essential to weigh these risks when trying to get pregnant after your 30s.

If you yearn to experience pregnancy and delivery, but are concerned about the possible ill-effects, there may be an option worth bearing in mind – the use of donor eggs.

Donor Egg Usage for Women Over 40

Many women have found donor eggs to be the solution they’d been hoping for.

After 35, the quality of a woman’s eggs quickly depletes and can make it nearly impossible to naturally get – or remain – pregnant. By using high-quality donor eggs from a reputable clinic or program, this problem can be remedied.

Potential donors are put through a demanding screening process to ensure potential parents receive the best eggs possible. This process includes various tests, such as:

  • Overall physical examination
  • Drug and STD testing
  • Mental health evaluations
  • Background checks
  • Educational and professional analysis

When choosing a donor, you’ll have access to all of these results and more information, including childhood and adult photos to assist you in finding a donor with similar physical traits to your own.

Donor Egg IVF: The Physical Process of Getting Pregnant

One of the advantages of choosing donor egg IVF is the careful manner in how the process is handled.

You’ll begin by having a thorough examination of your current reproductive health; this allows doctors to choose the best IVF protocol for your system.

Once your initial screenings are finished, you’ll begin a regimen of medications to prepare your uterus for the upcoming embryo transfer. These most commonly include progesterone and estrogen.

Throughout the entire process, your body’s response is safely monitored through bloodwork and transvaginal ultrasounds to ensure your treatment is progressing well.

Once your body is ready, your chosen eggs (which have been shipped to your local fertility specialist from a storage facility) are thawed and fertilized with your partner’s sperm.

Many couples are initially concerned about the freezing process and if it can have harmful effects on the eggs. However, a revolutionary flash-freezing technology, known as vitrification, protects the eggs against ice crystal formation and guarantees they’re in the same condition as the day they were collected.

After your egg is fertilized, within 3 -5 days the developing embryo is transferred into your uterus under the guidance of ultrasound technology and the use of a thin catheter.

Two weeks after the embryo transfer, you’ll return to the clinic for a blood pregnancy test that will, hopefully, produce the positive results you’ve been waiting for.

Turning 40 Doesn’t Have to Be the End of Your Parenthood Journey

As the adage goes: “Age is nothing but a number.”

Don’t lose hope of having children just because you’ve blown out the candles on your 40th birthday cake. Whether you choose to try getting pregnant naturally or employ an assistive reproductive technology like donor egg IVF, it’s important to realize you still have options to create your family.

When it comes to living your best life, it’s not impossible to have it all. See the world, build a career, marry for all of the right reasons, and yes… have a baby. In our ever-changing society, you have all the tools necessary to make your dreams come true.

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