The chances of getting pregnant at 40 were once considered crazy.
But we’re living in the 21st Century, and the role of women in society is continually evolving as women around the world pursue careers in previously male-dominated spheres and put child-bearing on hold as they advance on the professional world; other women may have been trying for a number of years and find themselves over 40 without having conceived.
Either way, more and more women are putting off pregnancy until their late 30s or 40s. Are you one of them? Have you left it too late?
The good news is that women over 40 do conceive; yes, the odds may be lower, but falling pregnant is certainly a possibility. There are also simple ways and lifestyle changes you can make to increase your fertility and optimize your chances of getting pregnant at 40.
Don’t come into advanced age conception with unrealistic expectations. Research dictates that a woman at the age of 40 has a 40% chance of conceiving, with the number dipping to 5% by the time she is in her mid-40s.
In fact, the number of eggs produced by the body begins to decline as early as 15 years before menopause.
The quality of your eggs also declines as you age and are more likely to have structural problems.
What you can do about it
Now that the bad news is out of the way, we can focus on the proactive steps you can take to increase your chances of falling pregnant at 40.
Positive lifestyle changes affect your reproductive system and your entire wellbeing.
Maintaining a healthy weight, keeping fit, and avoiding harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine all go in a long way in keeping your body healthy and optimizing your chances of falling pregnant.
Healthy lifestyle check-list
Make sure that you follow all the tips outlined below. It may be easier for you to introduce healthy lifestyle habits in stages.
Please note that the list below is by no mean exclusive – any healthy steps you take on your own accord are welcomed by your body and your reproductive system.
Also remember that it takes two to conceive and your partner will also benefit from adapting healthy habits:
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), lean proteins such as fish, whole grains, and nut and legumes.
- Avoid caffeine (remember it is found not only in your morning cuppa, but also in sodas and chocolate)
- Cut out illicit drug usage, alcohol, and smoking. Illicit drugs in particular have been known to alter hormone production and are harmful to the body. Smoking has been shown to reduce fertility by 60%.
- Exercise for 20-30 minutes at least 3 times a week. Walking is one of the most simple and easily accessible forms of exercise and does wonders for the body.
- When you go for a walk, try step off the treadmill and go for a walk in a park or green area. Being surrounded by nature reduces stress levels, which is another important factor to consider when trying to fall pregnant.
- Make time for relaxation.
Of course, regular, well-timed sexual intercourse is essential. You need to work out your time of ovulation and be sure to engage in sexual intercourse during this time.
Ovulation usually occurs around the 14-day mark of the menstrual cycle. This is the optimum time for fertilization as a new egg has just been released into the ovaries.
If you have made these changes and have been having regular sex for over a year without any success, it may be advisable to see a medical practitioner to see if there is a medical reason inhibiting your chances of falling pregnant.
A fertility specialist would also help you to diagnose any medical problems and advise the right fertility treatment to suit your circumstances.
There are also a range of fertility treatments now available, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Another option to explore is egg donation. Donor eggs have shown to increase conception through IVF.
The following video is an informative 3D animation demonstrating the process of intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
Video on ICSI:
All in all, falling pregnant after the age of 40 is not impossible; it just requires more work and dedication. The first step to increasing fertility is adapting a healthy lifestyle (both you and your partner).
If you have made the necessary changes and are still seeing no results after trying for a significant period, it is advisable to seek medical advice.