Here’s all you need to know about getting pregnant after 35

Whether you’re trying to conceive after 35, or not yet there but thinking about the future, here are all the things you need to know about getting pregnant after 35.

Here’s all you need to know about getting pregnant after 35 [Credit: Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition]

If you are hoping to have a child and wondering about your chances as a 'geriatric mother' (the medical term for women pregnant at 35 or later). Age is one of the key factors that predict your ability to conceive. Your fertility starts to decline at age 30 and keeps on dropping steadily until you hit menopause.

However, that's not to say that it’s impossible to deliver a healthy baby after age 35, in fact, it’s quite common.

If we're looking at your chances of getting pregnant in numbers, biologically, you’re at your peak fertility in your 20s. Healthy women that age who are trying to conceive have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting pregnant during a single menstrual cycle. In other words, 25 out of 100 women will succeed per month. However, by age 40, an average healthy woman has only a 5% chance of getting pregnant per cycle. More-so, a typical 40-year-old has about a 40% chance of losing the pregnancy. That compares to less than 15% for someone in her 20s.

However, if you want to understand why getting pregnant after 35 is more difficult, learn about the various pregnancy risks after 35, and find out what your real odds are for pregnancy success, keep reading this informative piece, we've got all you need to know.

The most common cause of the age-related decline in fertility is less frequent ovulation. As women age, they begin to have occasional cycles where an egg is never released. Egg quality and quantity also decline in a woman’s 30s and 40s. While the total number of eggs cannot be increased, research has shown that egg quality can be improved. Supplements containing Myo-inositol, folic acid and melatonin have been shown to help improve egg quality and ovarian function.

Other reasons conceiving after 35 may be more difficult include:

  • Infection or surgery that caused scar tissue around the fallopian tubes or cervix
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids or uterine disorders
  • A decrease in cervical fluid
  • Chronic health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Pregnant women older than 40 years have an increased risk of preeclampsia. Some of the increase in risk may be because older women tend to have more health problems before they get pregnant than younger women.
  • Having high blood pressure, a condition that becomes more common with age, can increase the risk of preeclampsia. Studies also show that older women who do not have any health conditions still can have complicated pregnancies.

The risks of miscarriage and stillbirth are greater in women who are older than 35 years. Also, multiple pregnancy occurs more often in older women than in younger women. As the ovaries age, they are more likely to release more than one egg each month.

Before pregnancy

  • Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup to help make sure you’re healthy before you get pregnant.
  • Get treatment for any health conditions you have, like diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. Make sure your Doctor knows about any medicine you take for these conditions. You may need to change to a medicine that’s safer during pregnancy. 
  • Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. Folic acid is a vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development.
  • Get to a healthy weight. You’re more likely to have health problems during pregnancy if you’re overweight (weigh too much) or underweight (weigh too little).
  • Reduce your stress.

During pregnancy

  • Go to all of your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Getting regular prenatal care lets your provider check on you and your growing baby.
  • Keep up with treatment for any health conditions you have. You may need to change to a medicine that’s safer for your baby during pregnancy. 

Currently, there is no medical technique that can guarantee fertility will be preserved. If you know that you want to have children later in life, one option may be in vitro fertilisation (IVF). With IVF, sperm is combined with a woman’s eggs in a laboratory. If the sperm fertilises the eggs, embryos may grow. Embryos can be frozen and used many years later. When you are ready, an embryo can be transferred to your uterus to try to achieve a pregnancy.

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