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Fertility After 40

Age and Miscarriages

Unfortunately, there is even more discouraging news. Not only do older women have a much harder time getting pregnant, even with infertility treatments, but once they do get pregnant, they have a much higher risk for miscarriage, even after a heartbeat is seen on a ultrasound, compared to younger women. This probably is related to the fact that chromosomal problems are more common in the eggs of older women, especially since using donor eggs from a young woman decreases the risk for miscarriage. 
Although tests can be done to check for chromosomal abnormalities in embryos used for in vitro fertilization, it's not yet clear if using them increases the chance for pregnancy or decreases the risk for miscarriage.

Complicated Pregnancies

Pregnancy is often more complicated in older women. Older women are more likely to have chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure (hypertension), that can cause problems during pregnancy. Also, older women are at a higher risk for various complications, such as gestational diabetes, twins, or multiples (even without fertility treatment), preterm labor, and preterm birth.
The older you are, the more closely your healthcare provider will monitor you throughout pregnancy. Also, due to the increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, your healthcare provider might encourage testing for such problems, such as with amniocentesis, although you certainly are not obligated to do the testing. 

What Does This Mean for Me?

Although aging certainly has a negative effect on a woman's fertility, you don't have to look far to find women who've had babies late in life. While some of these babies are likely the result of IVF, older women have been having babies the old-fashioned way for ages. It's quite possible that you might have no problems at all conceiving and carrying a baby. This is why it's important for older women who don't want to get pregnant to still use birth control until they have fully gone through menopause.
However, even if you're just starting out in your journey toward conception, it's a great idea to have a preconception checkup with your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough for pregnancy. Having a preconception checkup can also make it easier, both psychologically and logistically, to go in for a later appointment if you're not having success.
What if you've been trying without success? With younger women, doctors usually recommend that they try on their own for 12 months before delving into the world of fertility evaluation and treatment. However, if over the age of 35, usually only six months of trying naturally is recommended before seeking help because the longer you wait, the older you get.
Although younger women usually start with less invasive, easier, and cheaper fertility treatments, like oral ovulation medications, doctors often recommend that older women skip directly to some of the more effective methods, like IVF. 

More Headlines in Fertility After 40

↶ Am I Too Old to Have a Baby?
↶ Old Eggs
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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