Common wisdom suggests that it is almost impossible to get pregnant in your late 40s and beyond, and statistics frequently found floating around the internet confirm this:
- In your early twenties, you have a 96 percent chance of conceiving within one year.
- In your late twenties, you have an 86 percent chance of getting pregnant within 12 months.
- Between 30 and 34, you may still have up to 86 percent chance of conceiving within a year.
- Between 35 and 39, you have about a 78 percent chance of conceiving within a year, but it takes longer on average.
- By the time you get to your early forties, if you're reading up about your odds of conceiving, you'll already be bombarded with messages that IVF is your best chance of getting pregnant, and that even with this artificial reproductive technique, you only have odds of between 10 and 20 percent.
- Since your odds of conceiving are between three and four percent by the time you're past 45, you may well be advised to start looking for an egg donor at this stage.
Are These Gloomy Statistics Really Relevant To You?
Statistics tell one story, and it's one that you may want to be aware of if you are looking to inform yourself about your real chances of getting pregnant. However, the fact is that though female fertility undoubtedly declines rapidly with age — women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, after all — you can theoretically get pregnant right up until the menopause. (The menopause is defined as not having had a period for a full 12 months, after a period of perimenopause during which your cycles become irregular.)
Through the years, I have known plenty of women who got pregnant in their mid- to late-forties, and even beyond. Indeed, among those, many experienced surprise pregnancies that happened because they were under the false impression that they could no longer conceive and therefore did not need birth control. One of my friends, who is currently 49, is expecting a baby in three months' time — her estimated due date is just a few weeks after turns 50.
These stories may be anecdotal and not scientifically obtained, but they do show that getting pregnant in your late forties and beyond is possible. Several studies also show that women in their early forties who had already given birth to at least one child when they were younger had very good odds of conceiving — in fact, we're talking about success rates of up to 60 percent within six months! It is not strange to conclude that women in their late forties, too, have higher odds of conceiving naturally if they have already given birth before.
What Practical Steps Can You Take?
The same steps women of any age take to increase their chances of achieving a pregnancy, and a healthy pregnancy, apply to you as well. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, take 400 mg of folic acid daily, exercise moderately at least twice a week, and... track your ovulation by using an ovulation calendar, monitoring your cervical mucus, charting your fertility, or using ovulation tests.
Because your odds of getting pregnant later in life do decline with age, it's especially important for you to give nature a helping hand by timing intercourse in accordance with your fertile window. This is not a guarantee of success, but it helps. Women who would like a baby at any cost, however, may also choose to go the medical route and inquire about IVF.
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