There is no specific age which is the ‘best’ age at which to get pregnant. However, as women go through their 20s and then as they pass their mid-30s, fertility will typically start to slowly decline until they reach the menopause. Thus, females are born with their total lifetime supply of eggs and as they progress through life, the number of healthy eggs and ultimately, the total number of eggs diminishes and declines.
It is therefore recommended that most women seeking to fall pregnant aim to conceive by the time they are in their mid-30s to reduce the potential and possibility of complications or potential risks to mother or child.
Can I Get Pregnant After 40?
Although trying to conceive when you are younger significantly increases your chances of getting pregnant, you can still have a baby after 40. Women over 35 are considered to be of advanced maternal age (AMA).
Although the average age for menopause is 51, most women stop being able to sustain a successful pregnancy at some point in their mid-40s. Still, about 50% of women are ultimately successful with conception in their early to mid 40; some through fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and others naturally. Due to poor egg quality, it is common to encounter some challenges conceiving. Before trying to conceive via any method, it is very important that you run through the options you have to increase fertility prior to attempting to conceive. This is particularly pertinent if you are trying to conceive after 40.
Speak to a Fertility Doctor
It is essential to contact a reproductive or fertility specialist as soon as possible so that you are on track should you need fertility medications or fertility treatments like IVF.
There are many fertility options available if you are having trouble getting pregnant. The fertility treatment you ultimately proceed with will depend on the cause of the infertility. Therefore, speaking to a medical professional or private healthcare provider about your circumstances at the earliest opportunity is essential.
A fertility specialist will either diagnose a problem and suggest medication or treatment or recommend some lifestyle changes to boost your fertility. Because time is of the essence, particularly in the case of women, women over 40 are urged to seek help from a doctor after trying to get pregnant for six months, whereas younger women are often advised to wait a year.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes to Increase Fertility After 40
Although age will have a significant impact on fertility no matter the different circumstances of different women, there are some lifestyle changes women can undertake to improve their chances of fertility into their forties and potentially beyond.
- Exercise – An inactive lifestyle is linked to infertility. Getting more exercise has been proven to boost fertility, as well as having many other benefits for your health. Increasing physical activity can improve fertility in both women and men. This is particularly effective for people who are overweight. However, it is vital to increase your activity gradually and with the advice of a medical professional. Excessive high-intensity exercise can actually decrease your chances of conceiving
- Eat Well –Eating well can increase your fertility and help your chances of getting pregnant after 40. You can add extra protein to your meals by eating meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, and beans
- Ensure that there is enough protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D in your diet. A nutrient deficiency could lengthen your menstrual cycle, meaning that you ovulate less frequently. Check with your doctor to find out if you are lacking in any vitamins and need supplements or a prenatal vitamin. It would be best if you also looked for foods rich in antioxidants like folate and zinc. Antioxidants can boost fertility for both men and women
- Maintain a Stable Body Weight – Overweight women may produce too much oestrogen, which can contribute to fertility problems. If you have a high BMI, an overproduction of hormones can make your menstrual cycle less regular, reducing your chances of conceiving. On the other hand, being underweight can mean that your body struggles to produce enough hormones to ovulate each month. Low body fat can cause ovulation to stop altogether, and you could also experience problems sustaining a pregnancy if you do conceive. Talk to your doctor or midwife about maintaining a stable body weight to help you get pregnant after 40
- Abstain From Alcohol – If you are trying to conceive after 40, you should abstain from alcohol whilst you’re trying, not just once you are pregnant. Research has found a connection between high alcohol consumption and difficulty getting pregnant. Alcohol alters the body’s oestrogen levels which can inhibit egg implantation, reducing fertility. And if you do fall pregnant, alcohol can harm a developing foetus. However, it is unlikely to affect your fertility if you consume small amounts of alcohol on occasion
Stop Smoking to Boost Fertility
While there are many well-documented and medically accepted reasons to quit smoking, cigarettes can interfere with fertility for both males and females. If you are over 40 and are a smoker, quitting smoking as soon as possible will often help boost your chances of conception. Smoking accounts for 13% of the world’s infertility. It can also age you by up to 10 years in terms of fertility. Therefore, for example, a 35 year old woman who is a regular smoker may have the fertility of a 45 or potentially even older woman as a direct result of smoking, greatly affecting fertility.
Cigarette toxins damage a woman’s eggs, causing the ovaries to age, much like they cause men’s sperm to reduce in potency and effectiveness. As a result, research shows that the ovaries of a 40-year-old smoker often function like a 48-year-old’s. Overall, smoking interferes with the fertilisation and implantation process, making women who smoke less fertile. Cutting out cigarettes can help you get some ovarian function back and improve fertility. Talk to your doctor to get help quitting smoking.
If you are trying to get pregnant, you must be making healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices. If you are struggling to make these lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor to find out what help may be available.