Many women are wanting to become pregnant in their late 40s and, having had a baby at age 46, I found myself looking more into this subject.
Getting Pregnant When You Are Over 45
Although women have often in the past got pregnant naturally well into their 40s, mostly this has been in their early 40s and once they get past 45 this has got a bit more tricky.
There are many more women today who may want to get pregnant later in life and due to circumstances, often beyond their control, are trying to get pregnant in their late 40s.
The typically quoted cut-off age for getting pregnant naturally is age 45, which is when our bodies start to enter the period prior to the menopause, called peri-menopause, so I wanted to look at what the chances of getting pregnant are when you are over 45.
Many women don't actually realize that it is still possible to get pregnant during the peri-menopause and assume that their fertile days are over. You may find that your periods become more irregular and possibly your cycle will become shorter but in most cases you are still ovulating which makes it possible to get pregnant.
Do You Have a Regular Cycle?
If you have a regular cycle and are still ovulating then there is a chance that you can become pregnant. It does take longer to get pregnant the older you get but if you are still ovulating then there is still a chance.
The first thing that it may be advisable to do, is to go to your doctor to get your hormones levels chaecked, particularly if you ahve been trying to get pregnant for 6 months or more.
These blood tests may determine what kind of egg reserve you have left as the reserves diminish as we get older. The doctor may test your FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and if it comes out at a high number (over 25) then you may have less chance of getting pregnant (but there is still hope).
If you are actively trying to get pregnant then it is worth monitoring your cycles by taking your temperature and using ovulation tests. If you can't figure out if you are ovulating then this article may help you.
What Are the Chances?
WebMD states that the chances of getting pregnant at age 45 are around 3% each cycle. This is a declining rate and so you can expect it to get lower and lower for each year past age 45.
One problem with getting pregnant in your 40s, as I know, is that the chance of miscarriage is much higher due to, among other things, the possibility of chromosomal abnormalities. As long as you bear this in mind then this may keep your chances in perspective.
Not only is the miscarriage rate quite high, but also there are other medical reasons why getting pregnant in your late 40s is high risk.
So if you are trying to get pregnant, then you need to be aware of all of the facts and the possibility that it may not happen at all.
Menopause or Pregnancy?
So this is where confusion may come in. It may be the fact that as we get into our late 40s, the peri-menopause starts to set in for some women and they experience symptoms similar to that of being pregnant.
Periods may stop or suddenly be late and women may experience backache, bloating, and generally pregnancy-like symptoms (particularly if they have been pregnant before and recognize these signs).
Women may put these symptoms down to starting the menopause (and this might well be the case) but they can also be symptoms of pregnancy which is why they are often confused.
So if you are getting similar symptoms to those you might get if you were pregnant, then it could be the case that you are hitting the menopause or just getting peri-menopause symptoms.
The average age for the menopause is age 51 so if you have missed a period and have other symptoms, there is actually a chance that you may be pregnant rather than entering the menopause.
Thinking You Are Pregnant in Your Late 40s?
If you are in your late 40s and think you might be pregnant then take a home pregnancy test or go to your doctor and get checked out by them. However, be aware that I have heard and read of stories of women going to their doctor thinking they might be pregnant and the doctor totally writing off the idea and saying it must be the menopause. In this case going armed with a positive pregnancy test result should prove otherwise!
In fact it is often the case that if you accidentally get pregnant in your late 40s (most people might assume that the chances of it are so low that it is not worth using birth control) you may think you are entering the menopause. That was pretty much the case for Luisa Dillner, a newspaper columnist who got pregnant at age 47.
Using Donor Eggs
If you are really desperate to have a baby in your late 40s then the recommendation is to go for donor egg IVF. This uses eggs from a much younger donor (usually under age 35 but often in their twenties) which can make the success rate for each cycle over 50%.
Going through a cycle of DE IVF is possible even if your periods are irregular (or even if you have entered the menopause).
It can be worth trying naturally at first while looking into the possibility of using donor eggs down the line.
Should you try to get pregnant naturally if you are over 45?
This is a big question but if you are keen to have a baby that is genetically yours then it is definitely worth trying. It would be advisable to monitor your cycles to check when you are ovulating to give yourself the best chance of getting pregnant. Give yourself a deadline if you are thinking of going down other routes.
If you want to have a baby and you are OK with the idea of using donor eggs then you have a seriously good chance of getting pregnant in your late 40s. Just check out the success rates of some of the clinics and you may be surprised.
We are conducting a poll to see how many readers have become pregnant at age 47 - the results are quite interesting and show that women are trying - and getting - pregnant at this age.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 Jackie Grant
emma spencer on September 24, 2017:
I am 44 years old. Although my chances are pretty much low but I will keep my hopes up. And with thin uterus lining and hormonal imbalance its hard. How mentally sickning this processes are. Never thought it would be this difficult. I always thought with updated research and technology getting pregnant is easy. But unfortunately, nothing is easy.
I met few women in doctor’s clinic my friend suggested me to visit there. How understanding we become when someone going through the same problem.
Due to long term use of birth control pills causes thin uterus lining. I used various herbs and natural supplements. Exercise on regular basis. After Hysteroscpy went well still nothing happened. Age factor and hormonal imbalance also can cause. It makes me frustrated and depressed now really want to consider other options.
Jackie Grant (author) from UK on September 15, 2016:
Good luck tooold, I hope you get lucky!
tooold on September 14, 2016:
I am 47 yrs old, divorced with 3 older children (ages 13, 17 and 21). Earlier this year I met a wonderful man! We would like to have a child together. I was on the pill from February until July and am just now getting a regulated period. I am pretty sure that I am still ovulating. I was pretty regular before the pill. My gyn said to take prenatal vitamins...so I have been since July. I work out regularly and am honestly in the best physical shape of my adult life! Getting pregnant was never difficult for me before so I am hoping I am not too old. Feel like I get a 2nd chance at love and motherhood!
Jackie Grant (author) from UK on August 05, 2015:
What a great story jackiejenni and congratulations. It is lovely to hear success stories like yours that definitely give people hope that it can happen, thanks very much for sharing.
Jackiejenni on August 04, 2015:
I thought some of the ladies out there might be interested in my own very lucky experience. I have just turned 50 and I have a beautiful 21 month old son conceived naturally (no fertility treatment) when I was 47.5 and born at full term after being induced (40 weeks and 2 days) when I was 48 and 3 months. I was trying for the baby, unaware at first how low the statistics are for someone my age. I had recently got married to a younger man and wanted a baby and it took me 9 months of trying to get pregnant. By this time I had read up on all the stats about at least 50% of pregnancies in the over 45s ending in miscarriage, so I tried not to let myself get too excited until the 14 week period, but it seems like mother nature was on my side. This was not my first baby as I have 2 children from my first marriage born when I was 26 and 32 so they are now 23 and 17. So it can happen and I have heard of a few others having babies at 45 plus also. I was quite overweight when I got pregnant ( always been like this) and just eat normal food and don't do any exercise except a bit of walking. Now I have my baby,I am trying to be more healthy so I can hopefully live to a good age and not act like some crumbling old granny. I think my situation is fairly unusual - when I had gone to my Dr at 46 to say I wanted my IUS removed to see if I could get pregnant she advised me to take folic acid and wished me good luck but also said I may wish to consider donor eggs. I told her I was going to try naturally and see what happened. I personally was not interested in IVF but appreciate the options this offers others. When I had a prenatal appointment with the consultant at the hospital the first question she asked was whether I had had IVF. So I just want to wish others trying Good luck - you may be one of the lucky 2% (or whatever the odds are ) like me.
Jackie Grant (author) from UK on July 20, 2015:
I'd love to hear how LK1642 is getting on - as for me, my little one is now a toddler...
Moni on July 19, 2015:
Jackie Grant (author) from UK on August 31, 2012:
Congrats LK1642! I wish you all the best for this pregnancy, what great news. It just goes to show that it is still possible as long as we are still having regular periods.
LK1642 on August 30, 2012:
I just stumbled upon this article since I was searching for information about other women who are 47 and became pregnant naturally. My situation was not unlike how you describe it. I was sure I was in menopause and had an appt., scheduled with a GYN. The week before my husband I talked about taking a test just to rule out pregnancy as a possibility and here I am 7 weeks along with my first OB appt., scheduled for this coming Tuesday. This will be my first and I seriously thought I had a better chance of winning the lottery then getting pregnant. My reason for not having any are purely circumstantial, I've never had any issues. My periods are regular and I've never taken birth control. So...we'll see how things go at the appt., praying that all is well. Healthy baby, healthy mommy.