TTC in your 40s – There’s still time to become a mother
When you were in your 20s, your chances of becoming pregnant naturally were about 33% per cycle. By the time you reach 40, your odds of success have likely declined to just 5% each month. This is why our Las Vegas fertility doctors recommend that if you’re trying to conceive (TTC) in your 40s, it’s extremely important to see a fertility specialist immediately, rather than continuing to try on your own for months or years.
Women approaching menopause simply don’t have time to waste if they want to try to become pregnant with their own eggs. Most women are aware that the closer they get to menopause – which typically occurs around age 51 – the harder it is to conceive. Despite what we see in the media about celebrities having babies later in life, the truth is that most women can’t achieve a pregnancy with their own eggs by the time they reach their mid-40s, even with the help of IVF.
That’s because a woman’s egg supply naturally declines in both quality and quantity over time, a process called loss of ovarian reserve. In general, women’s fertility ends about five to 10 years before menopause actually starts, and there may be no symptoms at all. Even if you’re still having regular periods, you can still have loss of ovarian reserve and infertility.
The facts about TTC in your 40s
You were born with all the eggs you’ll ever have in your lifetime – about one million to two million. During your reproductive years, your body ovulates about 300 eggs, and the rest begin to degenerate in quality and number. By their mid-30s, most women experience a steep decline in fertility, making it much harder to become pregnant. Our Las Vegas fertility doctors recommend that all women 35 or older who want to have a baby see a fertility specialist for a thorough evaluation.
Women in their 40s may begin to notice shorter cycles or missed periods, which will become more frequent over time until menstruation ceases completely. If you’re TTC in your 40s and experiencing such symptoms, you should see a fertility specialist right away.
In addition to a higher risk of infertility, women in their 40s also face other risks.
- Women older than 45 have a very high miscarriage rate – about 75% – which is often a result of chromosomal abnormalities in embryos related to egg quality and advanced maternal age.
- Older women have a higher risk of dangerous ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants and grows outside of the uterus, as well as complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension.
- If you are TTC in your 40s, you also have a higher risk of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome. Such genetic conditions occur when an embryo has too few or too many chromosomes, which is associated with chromosomal abnormalities in the egg. At age 40, the risk of having a baby with such a disorder is 1 in 60, and that figure rises to 1 in 20 by age 45.
Fertility treatment options
While the statistics for TTC in your 40s may seem daunting, many women do become pregnant with fertility treatments and go on to have healthy babies. The key is to seek help from a skilled reproductive endocrinologist as early as possible, and to be open to your treatment options.
If you want to conceive in your 40s, you should know that success rates for some infertility treatments using your own eggs are lower than for younger women. That’s because women with low ovarian reserve don’t respond as well to the fertility medications used to stimulate egg production during treatments such as IVF. Pregnancy and birth rates in women over 40 have been reported to be between 1%-25% per IVF treatment cycle, depending on the woman’s age and ovarian reserve.
However, achieving pregnancy in your 40s is certainly not impossible. The first step at our Las Vegas fertility center is a complete fertility workup for both partners, including tests to measure your ovarian reserve and your partner’s fertility potential.
If you are diagnosed with low ovarian reserve, there is no treatment available that can increase your egg supply or improve egg quality. But, we may be able to optimize and take advantage of the eggs that are available. Alternatively, IVF with donor eggs can often provide a rapid path to a successful pregnancy, even for women who are 45 or older. With this process, you can choose a younger egg donor – in her 20s – who has the traits you desire, giving you a much higher chance of IVF success and the potential to build your family.
To learn more about fertility testing and treatment options while TTC in your 40s, contact us right away to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Las Vegas fertility doctors.