Infertility after 40 is becoming a common concern as more women choose to start their families later in life. Simply put, the older a woman gets, the harder it is for her to conceive with her own eggs. This is a scientific fact based on the significant decline of viable eggs produced by a woman as time passes. For women approaching their 40th birthday – or are already in their 40s – knowing their pregnancy risks, statistics, and possible solutions to conceiving after 40 can help them make the best choice for their family.

Valuable Statistics to Know

What are the odds of women conceiving after 40? According to the CDC, 30% of women in their 40s will experience infertility. Keep in mind that age may be one of many contributing factors to infertility. A study published in Fertility and Sterility showed women in their early 40s had a 25% chance of conceiving using their own eggs, but by age 44 that chance dropped to only 1.6%.

However, there is still hope for these women; they can increase their odds of getting pregnant by seeking fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), traditional IVF, or donor egg IVF.

Risks of Getting Pregnant in 40s

While a successful natural pregnancy is possible over 40, there are still significant risks to consider. After age 35, women have a higher risk of the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Premature labor and birth
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Miscarriage
  • Low birth weight
  • Placental problems
  • Birth complications

It’s impossible to know how your body will react, but thanks to scientific advances in fertility treatment, many of these risks can be decreased using assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Treatment Options

Women experiencing infertility after 40 have a few options to consider. They can try stimulating their own ovulation with fertility drugs or seek intrauterine insemination, a process in which a woman is inseminated with healthy sperm just as she is scheduled to release an egg. While both treatments can help increase the odds of conception, the best option with the highest chance of pregnancy for women over 40 – a whopping 39% – is in vitro fertilization (IVF) using donor eggs.

IVF and Donor Eggs

In vitro fertilization uses ART techniques to implant a fertilized egg into the mother’s uterus. As discussed, using one’s own egg becomes difficult after 40. Given this difficulty, families often opt to use donor eggs from a younger, healthier woman. By using donor egg IVF, the mother still experiences the miracle of childbirth with significantly less risk of miscarriage. Frozen donor egg banks provide a nationwide database of egg donors to choose from, or mothers-to-be can choose fresh egg donation from a family member, close friend, or select from a small regional pool of available donors. Frozen eggs are the better option for many families because the donor has already been screened, knows her legal rights, and may have had previous successful conceptions (either through her own children or children resulting from prior donations). Furthermore, the IVF process with frozen eggs is quicker than fresh eggs, as syncing the menstrual cycles of the donor and mother is necessary when using fresh eggs.

Steps Leading to Donor Egg IVF

Before committing to donor egg IVF, couples should seek counseling to prepare themselves for the emotions involved. While this treatment is a source of hope, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. Aside from therapeutic counseling, couples should also seek legal counsel to establish rights between all parties when using fresh eggs.

The Bottom Line

Pregnancy already comes with a degree of risk and possibility of failure, whether aged 25 or 43. If a woman is struggling to conceive, she should ask her doctor about possible treatment options.

If you’re thinking about being pregnant after 40, there are some precautions that you have to take under consideration. For example, you need to see if you are still fertile, if not there are many avenues you can go down like IVF from Fertility Plus.