Can a Healthy 40 Year Old Woman Conceive?

Couple reading pregnancy test together

"Can a healthy 40 year old woman conceive?" is a question that a number of women and their partners wonder about.

Can a Healthy 40 Year Old Woman Conceive

It is possible for a woman of this age to conceive a child using her own eggs and carry the baby to term. As she gets closer to menopause, the number of eggs she has declines. The eggs that she produces are more likely to have chromosomal abnormalities, which increases the likelihood that the woman will have a miscarriage or have a child with a birth defect.

If a woman in her 40s wants to get pregnant using her own eggs, she has a better chance of doing so in the early part of that decade than if she waited until she was in her mid-forties. The likelihood of conception for a 40-year-old woman undergoing infertility treatments with her own eggs is approximately 25 percent. By the time she reaches the age of 43, the odds of conceiving dropped to 10 percent. A 45-year-old woman's chances of becoming pregnant using her own eggs plummets to 1.6 percent.

Miscarriage rates increase with age, too. A 40-year-old woman has a 24 percent chance of losing the baby and the likelihood of this sad event occurring climbs to 38 percent within three years. Once the woman reaches the age of 44, her chance of pregnancy loss through miscarriage increases to 54 percent.

Paternal Age Matters

The age of the woman's partner has a bearing on whether she will be able to conceive in her 40s, too. Men are capable of fathering a child into their 70s, but as they get older, the quality of the sperm they produce deteriorates and the likelihood of genetic defects increases. The risk of having a child with Down Syndrome increases with paternal age, too.

Chances of Success

When a woman in her mid-thirties is trying to get pregnant, her chances of being able to conceive within 12 months of having regular intercourse are 75 percent. By the time she reaches the age of 40, her chances of becoming pregnant drop to between 40 and 50 percent.

Getting Pregnant Using Donor Eggs

Modern infertility treatments using donor eggs can help to increase a woman's odds of becoming pregnant. This is an option for a woman who wants the experience of carrying a child herself, as opposed to considering working with a surrogate. When this option is used, the risks of having a child with a birth defect drop since they are consistent with the egg donor's age. Most women who donate their eggs are in their 20s and they undergo physical and psychological testing before being accepted as candidates for this procedure.

After the eggs have been harvested from the donor, the rest of the process continues in the same way as a standard in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. The eggs are fertilized with sperm from either the woman's partner or a donor. After between two and five days, the embryos are transferred to the woman's uterus. She can take a pregnancy test after about 14 days to find out whether one or more embryos have successfully attached to the wall of her uterus, resulting in a successful pregnancy.

The answer to the question, "Can a healthy 40 year old woman conceive?" is that it is possible for a woman to do so at that age. As her age increases, the likelihood of conceiving decreases and the chances that she will need some type of infertility treatment to become pregnant goes up. With medical help, a woman in her 40s can start or add to her family.

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Can a Healthy 40 Year Old Woman Conceive?