Fertility and Age - Getting Pregnant When Older

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Fertility declines with age.

Many women and men, especially these days, are waiting to conceive. They may be waiting for the right time in their relationship or career, or they may have a checklist of things they want to accomplish before starting a family.

A woman's fertility works on something similar to a sliding scale. Women are most fertile in their late teens and 20s. Fertility gradually declines with age and begins to significantly decline from around 37 years of age.

Women are born with a finite number of follicles which declines until menopause. During the normal menstrual cycle, a single follicle will rupture and release an egg. It took 13 cycles for that single follicle to develop and grow to the preovulatory stage and it competed with approximately 1,000 other follicles. The other follicles die in process known as atresia. As you age, your ovarian reserve (number of follicles remaining in each ovary) reduces until menopause.

For men, fertility also declines with age, decreasing more so over 40. It can take five times as long for a women to get pregnant in the male partner is aged over 45.

Ideally, in terms of fertility, the best time to try to get pregnant is in your 20s, but this does not work for everyone. These days, many women get pregnant in their 40s. It's certainly possible, but it usually requires a little more planning and effort.

Age impact on Fertility Statistics

Fertility in your 20s

If you're in your 20s now, it is a good time to try to conceive. You are still in the most fertile time of your life. That is not to say that women in their 20s cannot have trouble getting pregnant, but statistically speaking, it will be easier than waiting until your early 30s. About 86% of healthy, fertile women in their early 20s will conceive within one year of trying. Health risks that often come along with pregnancy are also reduced in this time. For example, a woman in her 20s has only a 5% to 10% chance of miscarriage and only a one in 1,200 chance of having a baby born with Down's Syndrome.

Fertility in your 30s

About 63% of women in their early 30s will conceive after a year of trying, and once you conceive, the risks are higher than for women in their 20s. The rate of miscarriage for a woman in her 30s is about 20%. If you are trying to get pregnant in your 30s, it is especially important to reduce or eliminate other fertility-impacting factors, such as being over weight or under weight or smoking. It is also important to note that there are increased risks to the health of a baby born to a woman over 35 years of age. At 35, a woman's risk of miscarriage is 25% and the risk of having a baby born with Down's Syndrome becomes about one in 350.

Fertility over 40

In the early 40s, many women are still able to conceive, but the chances of getting pregnant are greatly reduced. Only 36% of women in their early 40s will conceive within one year of trying. Even with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), the most successful fertility treatment available, the success rate is only about 10% per try at this age. Given that fertility does decline rapidly at this age, most experts recommend that a woman seek fertility counseling after trying to conceive for only three months. By the age of 40, the miscarriage rate is 33% and the risk of having a baby with a genetic abnormality becomes one in 38.

Although many women are incapable of conceiving by the age of 45, it is still possible. However, women over 45 have less than a one per cent chance of conceiving using their own eggs. Please also see our article, Getting Pregnant In Your 40s.

How to get pregnant when older

1. Keep track of your cycle

In order to become pregnant, you must ovulate and sperm must be present to fertilize the egg. This means that you should know when you are about to ovulate and have sex during your fertile window (see below).

Age impact on Fertility Statistics

It's the same advice anyone would give to a 20-year-old who is trying to conceive, but tracking your cycle becomes more important in your 40s. Especially if early menopause runs in your family. Menopause: What To Expect, Symptoms and Treatments

You should keep close track of your cycle to be sure that you are still able to get pregnant. Use Ovulation Calculator to track your cycles and learn when you're most fertile. Click "Join" above to begin.

2. Stop any bad habits that may be impacting your fertility

If you have been smoking and/or drinking alcohol for most of your adult life, these habits may be working against you now. It is never too late to quit, but you must know that these are damaging habits that can reduce your chances of getting pregnant at a time when your chances are already declining.

3. Have sex during your fertile window

Plan to have sex as often as feasible within your fertile window, which starts five days before ovulation (six days including ovulation day). Your most fertile days are the two days leading up to ovulation day.

The only exception to this rule is if you know you are dealing with male factor infertility such as low sperm count. In this case, your doctor may recommend having sex less frequently.

4. Practice a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise

To be sure your body is healthy enough to conceive, do your best to exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet rich in fiber and folic acid, which means eating a lot of vegetables.

Also, be sure to drink a lot of water, try for eight 8-ounce glasses per day. Staying hydrated will help thin out your cervical mucus, which will make it easier for sperm to reach the egg.

5. Take a supplement

You should be taking a prenatal vitamin for at least three months before conception.

When to see a fertility doctor

If you're under 35 and haven't become pregnant after one year of timed intercourse (unprotected sex during your fertile window), it's time to consult a fertility doctor. If you're 35 or older, it's best to see a specialist after about six months of trying to conceive.

Got a question or a comment?

New Join the Discussion!

  1. Paulina Jul 20, 2016
    I have given birth to 3 children and i need one more which i have try for more than one year and I am 42 years old. I ovulate every month but the date changes for every month. Can I Conceive again because I need this child.
    1. Sarah (OC Team): Hi Paulina, thanks for your comment. Have you and your partner seen a fertility specialist? You should see one after 6 months of trying when over 35. - (Jul 20, 2016)
  2. Esther Aug 04, 2016
    My husband ejaculated within five minutes. What is the problem now? And we are above forty.
  3. Ogechi Aug 04, 2016
    A few hours after having sex, you will see semen that looks like egg whites. Can you get pregnant like that?
    1. Christina (OC Team): As long as you have sex during your fertile window, pregnancy is a possibility. You may notice some discharge after sex, but that isn't necessarily egg white cervical mucus. You can track your cycle using your basal body temperature, cervical mucus and position or with an ovulation predictor kit. Here are some articles you may find helpful: Tracking cervical mucus https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/cervix-cervical-mucus/ Charting BBT https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/basal-body-temperature/ - (Aug 04, 2016)
  4. Paulina Aug 09, 2016
    I had sex two days before my ovulation. Can I become pregnant? I am 42 years old.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Two days before ovulation is the perfect time to have sex for your best chance of conceiving, according to many researchers. As long as you haven't started menopause and do not have other fertility issues, pregnancy is possible. Good luck! - (Aug 09, 2016)
  5. Alozie Aug 15, 2016
    I had a miscarriage last year in April. Five months later, I had a blighted ovum. What could problem be with me? Up until now, there is no sign of pregnancy. Will I be able to concieve again? I am 36 years old.
    1. Christina (OC Team): I'm very sorry for your loss. Have you met with a fertility specialist or had a fertility workup with your doctor? He or she should be able to give you some insight on your specific case. Good luck on your journey! - (Aug 15, 2016)
  6. Hilary Aug 25, 2016
    We have had 3 unsuccessful IVF's with one donor, and 2 of our own sperm/egg cycles. Our original issue was low sperm count. Has anyone has success conceiving naturally at 42? Am looking for hope as I am hoping to try naturally for a number of months before considering further treatment (due to lack of success with IVF). Have had all AMH etc follicle count done all within normal range for my age...
    1. Christina (OC Team): It is possible at 42 as long as menopause hasn't happened yet and there are no other fertility issues. Good luck! - (Aug 25, 2016)
  7. Hilary Aug 27, 2016
    Thanks Christina - I am getting regular periods like clockwork, so I am just going to try to give things a go naturally. I am going to put a time limit of 3-4 months before re-considering what to do next.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Sounds like a good plan. :) - (Aug 27, 2016)
    2. Hilary: Thanks Christina- will keep ya posted! - (Aug 27, 2016)
    3. Christina (OC Team): Please do... Good luck! - (Aug 28, 2016)
  8. Hilary Aug 27, 2016
    Just wondering because my husband's count is in the lower range. Is it still ok to have sex frequently during fertile period? Any advice?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Most experts recommend every two days during your fertile window. Have a look at this article for more info https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/sperm/ - (Aug 28, 2016)
    2. Hilary: Many thanks, Christina. I will definitely follow through on the advice regarding every second day during fertile period... - (Aug 29, 2016)
  9. Uloma Aug 30, 2016
    Great information, but the issue with me is that I experience one out of the 12 ovulation signs. Is it OK? And the egg white smells odd during my ovulation. Kindly assist.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Many women only notice some ovulation signs. This isn't a problem. If you are experiencing discharge with an odor, you should talk to your doctor. Good luck! - (Aug 30, 2016)
  10. Kastiel Sep 05, 2016
    My period started on the 19th of September. When am I likely to ovulate?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Log your cycle dates into your Ovulation Calculator account to get a prediction. Good luck! - (Sep 06, 2016)
  11. Rickie Sep 15, 2016
    I had two children in my early twenties, then I got my tubes tied after my second child. Last year, I had my third child after my tubes have been tied for 10 years. I did not have surgery. They come untied on their own or grow back together. I was just wondering what are my chances of getting pregnant again? My cycle is every 30 days for about five to six days.
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you think you may be pregnant, take a test. - (Sep 16, 2016)
  12. Michelle Sep 18, 2016
    I am 36 and have been ttc for 6months. I just took a test Friday and it was positive. I am bleeding and having a light period. Should I be concerned? I am calling the doc on Monday to get confirmed. I still feel like the test I took could be wrong. I always thought i couldn't have kids, but after tracking and trying its finally given me a positive test.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Congratulations on your positive result! Many women experience light bleeding in early pregnancy and have healthy pregnancies, but it's good to talk your doctor. - (Sep 18, 2016)
  13. Ashanique Sep 23, 2016
    I am 41 years old and my fiance is 38. We both have 5 kids, each from previous relationships. I had an IUD for 6 years and had it taken out May of this 2016. Now that I have regular cycles and we have had sex withing the ovulation period a few times, especially when levels are high, but still no baby. Its so draining that now. We have sex at least twice or once week. Is there something I am not doing or him? Or is it the age?
    1. Christina (OC Team): It's normal for a healthy, fertile couple to take a few cycles to conceive. Some women report it taking a year after depo. Good luck! - (Sep 23, 2016)
  14. Ajayi Sep 25, 2016
    I am 41 yrs old, and I'm confused about my cycle. I have been counting 28 days. My flow in August was on the 18th and lasted for five days. It came on Sept the 12th. We planned to try for a child this weekend. But the cycle prediction says I've ovulated since the 22nd. I am confused.
    1. Christina (OC Team): If your period was on the 18th of August and again on the 12th of September, it appears as though you had a 24 day cycle. You begin counting on the first day of your cycle and end on the day before your next cycle begins. Does that answer your question? - (Sep 25, 2016)
  15. Monica Sep 25, 2016
    What if you had sex 5 days before you ovulated? Is it possible to get pregnant?
    1. Christina (OC Team): This is within your fertile window, so it's possible. - (Sep 25, 2016)
  16. Ashanique Sep 25, 2016
    I'm was thinking that, but he works so late at night. When comes home, he is exhausted.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Work schedules can interfere with TTC, but try not to stress. As long as you are having sex within your fertile window, you have a chance. Good luck! - (Sep 25, 2016)
  17. Yasmeen Oct 08, 2016
    I am 39 and my boyfriend is 23. Do that have an impact on our chances of conceiving? I do not drink or smoke and exercise when I can. Wish us luck!
    1. Christina (OC Team): Age does impact fertility, unfortunately. But you should still be able to conceive until menopause starts. Good luck! - (Oct 09, 2016)
    2. Yasmeen: Well my period was due on the 16th. Nothing but faint spotting today. I've been sleeping waaay too much. I'm very fatigued, even while at work. My boyfriend has been vomiting today. I will wait a couple of more days before taking a test. Wish us luck! - (Oct 18, 2016)
    3. Christina (OC Team): Good luck! - (Oct 19, 2016)
  18. Nana Oct 08, 2016
    I had a miscarriage last year. I have tried so many times to get pregnant again but still not successful. What can I do? I'm 44yrs
    1. Christina (OC Team): I'd suggest talking to your doctor about fertility testing as soon as you can. Good luck! - (Oct 09, 2016)
  19. Lori Oct 18, 2016
    Just wanted to give other women hope. I had my first two at 18 and 20. They were misused-birth-control babies. My next two, I tried for at 24 and 32. It just took 1 cycle and 2 cycles respectively. At 40, I decided I wasn't done and tried for several months. I lost the baby at 13 weeks. Just the heart stopped. At 41, after several months, I got pregnant again and lost a baby girl at 28 weeks because of her cord wrapping around her neck. I got pregnant on Emelia's due date and gave birth to a beautiful boy at 42. I decided he needed a sibling closer in age and tried for 3.5 years until I gave up my 45th birthday. I stopped nursing that month as well and God blessed me with Henry at 45. My doctor expects I will be back.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Thank you for sharing your story! - (Oct 18, 2016)
  20. Yasmin Oct 20, 2016
    Hi I'm 42. DH is 28. We got pregnant within 3 months without trying when I was 40. Sadly, that pregnancy didn't work out - we have decided to try again this year and have been TTC for 8 months. I have regular periods with ovulation signs and positive OPK's every month, but still we haven't conceived. Can I get pregnant again? My fertility checks are ok - no perimenapause. The only factor we have against us is that we are overweight.
    1. Christina (OC Team): That's great news that your fertility checks are okay. As you've read in this article, fertility does decline with age, so you may find it more difficult to get pregnant in your 40s, but it's certainly possible. Weight can be a factor, and even losing 10 pounds can make a difference if you're overweight. Have a look at this article. https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/weight/ - (Oct 21, 2016)
  21. Monica Oct 22, 2016
    My cycle was on the 30th of Sept and ended on Oct,5. I had sex on the 7th. My fertile window was not until the 10 through the 19th, but I ovulated on the 13th. What's the chance of me getting pregnant?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Your fertile window includes five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation for a total of six days. So if you ovulated on the 13th, your fertile window was the 8-13th. If you're sure you ovulated on the 13th and only had sex on the 7th, the chances of conceiving this cycle aren't high. - (Oct 24, 2016)
  22. Bukky Oct 22, 2016
    I gave birth to two children when I was 24 years old. I lost my husband after 3.5 years of marriage. Now i got married to another man and we need children. I am 44 years old. Can i still conceive? My menstruation cycle is 28 days. Secondly, will i know am ovulating and what are the signs to notice? Thank you
    1. Christina (OC Team): Assuming there aren't fertility issues, you can conceive up until menopause begins. Just keep in mind that the ovarian reserve declines with age. Have a look at this article on tracking cervical mucus and position. Good luck! https://www.ovulationcalculator.com/cervix-cervical-mucus/ - (Oct 24, 2016)

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