Can Women Conceive Later In Life?

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Conceiving Later In Life

Posted by The MAB Team on 4/14/2011 to Health Topics
Couples in general are waiting later in life to start their families. There are many factors involved in this, but generally, couples are waiting until they are financially sound, emotionally ready to be parents, and in many cases, waiting out their 20’s and enjoying those years – children free.

Statistically speaking, the older a woman gets before conception, the longer a couple may need to try to conceive before a successful pregnancy is upon them.  Women over 35 abide by a different set of rules than a woman of 30 when trying to get pregnant. They are given advice based on their age when in fact, many recent well-designed studies have shown that in healthy women, the risks of delaying pregnancy are minimal. Actually, what's most important is the health of the mother before she conceives. That's good news, because it's something you can control. Any woman considering getting pregnant should probably meet with her doctor or midwife for a thorough examination. A detailed medical and family history of both prospective parents can identify conditions that might affect the health of mother and baby.

That said, older women are more likely to have or develop certain medical conditions during pregnancy, such as diabetes, hypertension, and placenta praevia (when the placenta lies low in the uterus, partly or completely covering the cervix). As these conditions may have serious consequences for your pregnancy, they require closer monitoring and may place limitations on your diet.

Another problem is that the odds of having a baby with a genetic defect increases as you get older. For example, the risk of Down syndrome rises from one in 885 at age 30 to one in 365 at age 35, one in 109 at age 40, and one in 32 at age 45. If you're almost, or over 40, you should strongly consider genetic testing because the risk of genetic problems increases significantly.  Because chromosomal abnormalities are the most common reason for miscarriage, the risk of miscarriage also increases with age. Lastly, most studies show an increased risk of needing to deliver by caesarean section for women over 35, though the exact reasons are not clear.

The biggest obstacle for women over the age of 35 may be getting pregnant. A woman hits her peak fertility between the ages of 20 and 24. In women aged 35 to 39, fertility is at least one quarter less. And in women aged 40 to 45, the chances of becoming pregnant are 95 per cent less than those of a woman in her twenties. Even with infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization, women have more problems conceiving as they age.

Once you've considered these issues, you can concentrate on the same things that should accompany a healthy pregnancy at any age: good prenatal care, proper diet, emotional and financial preparation for the child you'll care for over the next 18 years.

Many women who have delayed pregnancy until they're over 35 are surprised to find that, given generally good health, they're not much more likely than younger women to have serious complications, and the vast majority end up having healthy babies.

Therefore, the same factors are important for any woman trying to conceive. Yes, there are some physical shifts and changes in women as they age. But try not to get discouraged.   Unless you have been diagnosed with a specific illness or condition preventing a healthy conception, don’t let your age deter you from you from trying.  Try often! See your Doctor regularly, and keep focused on the desire to start your own family.

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