Getting Pregnant After 40: Ten Important Statistics You Need to Know About
Women are waiting longer to get pregnant than they used to… a lot longer. In fact, there are more women getting pregnant in their late 20s and early 30s.
Teen/early 20s pregnancies are plummeting. But where does that leave women in their 40s exactly?
There are many reasons a woman could wait until this time in her life to have children:
- More women are getting advanced degrees
- More women are choosing to pursue their careers before they pursue motherhood
- More women are getting married later
- Lack of child affordability make it harder for women to conceive in their younger “leaner” financial years
- And the list could go on and on
So if you find yourself in your 40s (or you’re almost 40) and you want to have a baby, here are some stats you should know about first.
Remember: these aren’t to scare you. Stats are just numbers. You are a unique person. And every person has a different experience.
However, these stats can give you a realistic perspective on what it means to have a baby later in life – especially this close to menopause.
1. Pregnancy in the 40s has been on the rise for 3 decades, and even pregnancy over 45 jumped by 6% between 2014 and 2015. (source)
So let’s start out with the positive news first: pregnancies for women in their 40s are really happening.
And they are happening more and more frequently.
This is largely due to a mixture of women wanting babies later in life more often and advancement in fertility treatments.
2. There were 11 live births per 1,000 women aged 40 to 44 in 2015, and there were 0.8 live births per 1,000 women aged 45 to 49 (source)
Now let’s get to the detailed numbers. Just how many women in their 40s are having babies?
At first this stat might seem like a lot, but compare this to women in their 30s – where there are 101.5 births per 1,000 women. Or women in their 20s –where there are 76.8 births per 1,000 women.
As expected, the number really drops at the 40 mark.
But there’s an even more important reason to pay attention to this particular stat: if you want to get pregnant in your 40s, your early 40s will be significantly more successful than your later 40s.
3. Once you hit your 40s there is only a 5% chance on conceiving each month (source)
So we’ve looked at stats from a population standpoint, but what does this all mean for you?
On a given month, where you do everything right, you still only have a 5% chance of conceiving. Why does this happen? Lots of reasons.
The lining of your uterus may be very thin, which makes implementation more difficult. Your eggs age as you age. And they decrease in number every single year. When you’re born, you have all the eggs you are ever going to have. Which brings us to the next stat…
4. You are born with somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 eggs. By 37, you’ll have about 25,000 left. By 43, they are almost all gone. (source)
Now you should probably be able to better understand some of our previous stats – look at that massive egg number decline between age 37 and age 43.
Some women think we only shed one egg every menstrual cycle and that’s it. But we actually lose many eggs.
5. The average age range of menopause is between 48 and 55 years old (source)
Here’s something some women don’t realize: you can get pregnant while you are in perimenopause.
So just because you have a few missed periods and experience hot flashes does not mean you are incapable of conceiving.(So don’t jump off the birth control if you don’t want to have a baby!)
But once you hit menopause, conceiving is impossible. And this point can often reach a woman in her late 40s (though it is definitely possible that it arrives much sooner or much later).
How do you know you’ve transitioned from perimenopause into menopause? You will have not had a period for 12 months in a row. If you’re still not sure, go in and see your doctor for testing.
6. IVF success rates are low in early 40s, and then drop to 0% to 1% once you’re 45 (source)
Since so many of these stats show us just how hard getting pregnant really is for a woman at this age, you may be thinking about assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
And you are probably right to do so. IVF may be the best chance if you still have some eggs, but have trouble getting to the official pregnancy point.
But for most women of this age, her best chance of success with IVF is to use a donor egg.
That’s because the only problem comes from your eggs, not necessarily your body. A woman in her 40s is often just as capable of carrying a baby to term as a younger woman. The problem is conceiving the baby.
7. At 40, you have a higher rate of miscarriage than a live birth (source)
So let’s switch gears. We’ve been looking at conceiving a baby in your 40s, now let’s look at carrying a baby and delivering a baby.
I won’t lie to you – conception is not the only hurdle you have to jump over. Miscarriage rates skyrocket as you age. This is due to many factors like hormones and the egg’s health.
Your doctor will, of course, be aware of this and instruct you with everything you need to do to boost those odds of a live birth. Follow his or her instructions to a tee.
8. Pregnant women in their 40s are more likely to experience pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia (source)
All this means is you will need to be in close contact with your fertility specialist/doctor. They will probably ask for more checkups with you. And they may have stricter lifestyle instructions.
If you are a woman in your 40s and have any symptoms that may feel off or slightly feel uncomfortable, talk to your doctor immediately.
There is no reason to worry if you are making it up or exaggerating.
Your health and your baby’s health could depend on immediate medical attention.
9. 8.65% of women between the ages of 18 and 34 have an emergency cesarean, but women over 40 have a 14.24% chance (source)
All this stat shows is there is more of a chance that there could be some delivery complications when you are older than when you are younger. Be prepared for the necessity of a C-section.
This is also a stat you should keep in mind when you decide where to give birth.
Since you will most likely be considered high-risk, many people would suggest you have the baby in the hospital instead of a home birth. Talk with your doctor about what you would like and listen to his/her recommendations.
10. 1 in 1,340 babies born to mothers 25 years old have Down syndrome. By age 40, it’s 1 in 85 embryos. At age 45, it’s 1 in 35 embryos (Source)
Finally, we get to the unfortunate fact that there are often more genetic and health problems in the babies when the mother is older.
A large reason for this is the health of a woman’s remaining eggs. Once you’ve hit your 40s a large majority of your eggs will be considered “chromosomally abnormal.”
There are tests you can take to determine whether this will be the case for you. Talk to your doctor about those options.
The Good News for Women Over 40
A lot of these stats will leave a woman in her late 30s or 40s quite discouraged. But don’t let stats cloud your vision that a healthy pregnancy is still totally possible. Here’s some of the good news.
- A good fertility specialist can make all the difference: If you have decided you want a baby in your 40s, don’t try on your own and don’t delay. Research the best fertility specialist in your area, and see him or here right now. In many cases, they can make your dream a reality.
- You are probably in a much better space than a younger woman: The years have brought you wisdom, experience, and most likely financial security. Most older women have more time to give to their children and will not have the stresses of a younger woman.
- Your health is in your hands: You may not be able to control the health of your eggs, but you can control the health of YOU. Start making lifestyle changes to give your body and your hormones the boost they need. Clean up your diet by limiting sugars and processed foods and increasing veggies, fruits, lean meats, and healthy fats. Start a moderate workout regimen (but don’t push too hard).
- Natural fertility supplements can help: Talk to your fertility specialist about including some natural fertility-boosters into your regimen. Top choices include: chaste tree berry, stinging nettle, myo-insotol, and ashwagandha.
Having A Baby Post-40
So with these stats in mind, you can talk to your doctor about your specific situation. Explain your goals and dreams. Then he or she can run tests and see what your options are. You can then choose what you are going to do from there.
But stay optimistic, ladies!
I’ll leave you with one more stat:
In 2015, there were 754 births in the United States to women in their 50s. This can happen.