Your chances of conceiving decrease as you age. It's natural for you to worry about becoming pregnant when you are past what is considered the fertile and reproductive age, which is below 35 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about 30% of women between ages 40 and 44 have infertility issues.
The success of pregnancy at different ages
You are born with approximately two million eggs, and they are all you will have in your lifetime. Your biological clock starts ticking when you get your first period and continues until you reach menopause. By the time you receive your first period, your egg supply reduces to approximately 300,000 eggs. Between the ages of 12 and 52, you will ovulate about 500 times, and not all of those eggs will be healthy.
- Between 20 and 24 years of age: This is the magic window for making babies. At the age of 21, you have a 90% chance that the chromosomes in your eggs are healthy, which helps your chances of getting a healthy baby. Your fertility reaches its peak at the age of 24 years.
- Between 25 and 29 years: From your mid-20s, specifically age 25 to about 34 years, the conception rate reduces to 86% after trying for a year. You also have a slightly higher chance of having a miscarriage than when you're in your early 20s.
- Between 30 and 34 years: You still have high odds of conceiving, but your chances of having a miscarriage are also higher. You don’t need to try fertility treatments until you’ve been trying to conceive for more than a year without success.
- Between 35 and 39 years: Your chances are still good, particularly before you hit 37 years old. However, for most women, 35 seems to be the age when fertility declines. The primary reason for this is the declining egg quality. While you may still produce many eggs, they are likely to have chromosome-related defects that reduce their viability. This puts you at the risk of abnormal pregnancy, conceiving a baby with Down syndrome, or a miscarriage.
- Between 40 and 44: Your egg quality and quantity continue to decline as you age. At this age, you have some challenges that make it harder to become and stay pregnant.
- 45 and beyond: Your likelihood of becoming pregnant at this age is no more than 3 or 4%. While it’s not impossible to conceive, assisted reproductive technologies are almost always required to enhance your success rate.
Fertility treatments after 40
Assisted reproductive technology comes in to help you conceive after the age of 40, but it is less effective compared to younger ages. For example:
- The success rate of intrauterine insemination (IUI) can be as low as 5% for women in their 40s.
- The success rate for in vitro fertilization is slightly higher, standing at about 15% per cycle. However, the rate is not as good as it is for people in their younger age groups. Besides, the percentage of live births for women over 40 is only 5.8% per IVF cycle.
- Egg donation presents the best chance for you to get pregnant after 40 years. Often, the chances of conception are higher if you use a donated egg from a younger and healthier donor that has been inseminated with your partner’s sperm. The success rate can increase by about 35%.
Risks of pregnancy after the age of 35 years
Pregnancy at 45 years is not a frequent occurrence, and when it happens, both you and the baby should be considered high risk. Getting pregnant while older comes with an increased risk of gestational trophoblastic, a rare disease in which abnormal cells grow in the uterus after you conceive. It also comes with the risk of spontaneous abortion and abnormalities in the unborn child.
Getting pregnant after the age of 35 also puts you at risk of:
Benefits of having a baby after 40
Having a baby while you are older may come with various challenges. However, it also presents some unique benefits:
You’re more emotionally prepared for parenthood.
You might be more financially stable; hence, you might not feel the financial pinch of raising a child.
You are more prepared to focus on family, having checked off many life goals, including career, travel, and education. You’re more settled and prepared to make solid decisions concerning the upbringing of your child.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Assisted Reproductive Technology," "National Public Health Action Plan for the Detection, Prevention, and Management of Infertility."
Der Gynakologe: "Advantages of later motherhood."
International Journal of Fertility: "Fertility in Women after age forty-five."
Patient: "The truth about getting pregnancy after 40."
Stanford Children's Health: "Medical Genetics: How Chromosome Abnormalities Happen," "Risks of Pregnancy Over Age 30."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Female Age-Related Fertility Decline," "Having a Baby After 35: How Aging Affects Fertility and Pregnancy."
UT Southwestern Medical Center: "Pregnancy over age 35: A numbers game."
Your Fertility: "Why age matters for men and women who want to have a family."
Top Chances of Getting Pregnant at 45 or Older Related Articles
Can Dreaming of Being Pregnant Be a Sign?According to the National Health Foundation, we all have four to six dreams every night. A few dreams we remember, whereas the most we forget. Humans have been studying dreams and their significance since ancient times.
Can Hormonal Imbalance Affect Pregnancy?Hormonal imbalance is a common issue that affects many people. Learn the signs of hormonal imbalance, how it affects pregnancy, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
Can You Get Pregnant Without Ovulating?You can't get pregnant if you are not ovulating because there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. You can get pregnant if you have unprotected sex anywhere from 5 days before ovulation until 1 day after ovulation.
Am I Pregnant QuizWhat are early pregnancy symptoms? In some women, symptoms range from a missed period to feeling lightheaded. Others may experience typical "morning sickness" and food cravings. Could you be pregnant? Take the quiz!
How Do Surrogate Mothers Get Pregnant?There are two ways a surrogate mother gets pregnant. In the first form, the surrogate mother’s egg cell is used to conceive the child. The sperm is donated by the male of the couple who opts for surrogacy.
How Do You Find Out if You Are Able to Get Pregnant?Unfortunately, not every woman is able to get pregnant. There are many ways you can find out if you can become pregnant. Factors to consider include your age, menstrual history, weight, health history, and your use of alcohol and tobacco.
What Is the Oldest Age a Woman Can Get Pregnant Naturally?Fertility declines with age. Most women are not able to get pregnant between 5 and 10 years before menopause.
Ovulation & FertilityBoost fertility and increase your chances to conceive. Learn about ovulation calendars, diet, aging and other factors that can affect pregnancy.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy: Multiple Births, Twins, Triplets, and MoreMultiple births occur when a woman bears twins, triplets, or even more babies during pregnancy. More multiples are born today thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization using fertility drugs. Women carrying multiples often give birth via C-section.
Pregnancy Myths and Facts QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this pregnancy myths and facts quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)When a woman is pregnant, she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy diet menu plan should consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats (unless you are vegan or vegetarian), and dairy. Examples of healthy pregnancy diet meal plans include holistic pregnancy diet, vegan or vegetarian diet, and low-carb diets. Begin your healthy eating plan around three months before you begin trying to conceive, and follow the same eating plan until after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are overweight or obese, being pregnant is not the right time to try to lose weight. Discuss your options with your health care professional.
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
Getting Pregnant (Tips for Trying to Conceive)Trying to get conceive, or become pregnant can be challenging, frustrating, and an emotional rollercoaster for some couples. A couple can chart their progress, which may ultimately lead to a successful healthy pregnancy, or, when necessary, lead to discussions with a fertility specialist.
Pregnant? Don't Eat ThisDo you know which common foods may be risky during pregnancy? Learn which foods to avoid, while pregnant, such as queso dip, lunch meat, coffee and more.