A woman’s fertility is at its peak when in their twenties, however, today many women are starting their family in their late thirties and early forties. There are many reasons for this and each woman has their own reason. For example, it could be infertility issues or going through IVF, meeting Mister Right late in life, career women not ready, and many more other reasons.
As a woman ages her fertility declines which can make falling pregnant more difficult. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that women who are aged 40 years of age and older have a low chance, less than 5% chance, of actually falling pregnant.
This is naturally upsetting for many women, as they are not aware of these statistics and what makes it worse is that many women are led to believe that having babies over the age of 40 is considered quite normal. After all, look at all the celebrities that are having babies in their 40’s and even in their 50’s!
It all appears so easy and ‘natural’. However, is it?
What Are The Risks of a Late Pregnancy?
There are increased risks with any pregnancy after 40, not only in overcoming lower fertility, but a subsequent increase in health problems if pregnancy does occur. The risks for the baby and the mother increases as the age of the woman increases too.
1. Infertility Issues.
Every woman has a certain number of eggs. Each month an egg is released during her menstrual cycle. Over the years her egg count diminishes, until there are no eggs left and the onset of menopause begins. Importantly, the egg quality and functioning of the ovaries also diminishes over time. This is the first battle in falling pregnant over 40, unless the eggs had been saved and frozen in their younger years.
Many experts agree that it is extremely difficult, for women over the age of 45 to conceive and carry to term with their ‘aged eggs’.
Plus, your partner may be older now and his sperm count won’t be the same either, so there is the reduction in fertility on both sides.
Any woman at any age can experience a miscarriage, it’s an unfortunate fact of life. However, an increase in age brings an increase in risk. This again is due to the egg quality. The egg quality diminishes as we said above.
3. Diabetes and High Blood Pressure.
In any pregnancy, diabetes and high blood pressure can be a problem. This will be monitored closely throughout your pregnancy even if you are in your prime reproductive years, but more so if you are also over 40.
4. Baby Health.
If you are thinking of having a baby in your forties, you would have also heard of the genetic risks to your baby. Some babies are born with mental health disorders, such as those in the Autism spectrum, others are at a higher risk of being born with Downes Syndrome.
Your doctor will organize ultrasounds and tests to check for any unforeseen abnormalities, and many babies are born with no problems at all. It’s just important to be aware of the increased potential for genetic risks.
A Final Positive Note.
As with any pregnancy there are risks to both the mother and the unborn child. We only have to look at our ancestors to see that childbirth wasn’t easy even when they were young!
However today, with improved access to medical facilities and doctors, many more women have more choices and better outcomes regardless of their age.