There are many reasons a woman may choose to delay pregnancy. Climbing the corporate ladder, not finding the right partner, health problems or finances are all valid reasons to wait. That said, fertility is known to decline with age. On average, women ages 20-29 have the highest chance of pregnancy, with a fertility rate of 80.1 per every 1,000 women. Women over 40 have a much lower fertility rate of 12.8 per 1,000, making conception more challenging. Although getting pregnant past age 45 is statistically unlikely, a baby is not entirely out of the question.
The insemination route
Most women over 45 who decide to pursue fertility treatment will first be given the option of intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. IUI is a less invasive and cheaper option that cleans and concentrates a partner’s or donor’s sperm and places the sample directly into the uterus, increasing the chances of success. This option is less successful than IVF but may be considered for women who have previously had a baby, are generally healthy, or have concerns about the high price of IVF treatment.
Moving forward with IVF
Although a fertility specialist will typically offer advice based on a combination of personal factors, women over 45 generally want to seek out IVF treatment for the best chance of getting pregnant. During IVF, fertility medications are given to the woman to grow multiple eggs that are then extracted. The eggs are combined with sperm in the lab to create an embryo. The final stage of IVF involves transferring the embryo directly into the woman’s uterus.
Thinking about an egg donor
Since egg quantity and quality decline with age, women over age 45 generally experience fertility concerns related to egg health. If a patient has tried IVF without success, the next option to consider may be an egg donor. Patients who go this route can explore profiles of possible candidates to find a donor with similar physical characteristics. Once selected, the donor’s egg will be combined with the male partner’s sperm or a donor’s sperm to create an embryo. The embryo is then transferred into the woman’s uterus.
Consider a surrogate
Another less talked about option is the use of a gestational surrogate. A surrogate is a woman who has agreed to carry and deliver a baby for a woman or couple. In this scenario, the woman’s own eggs and the partner’s sperm are used to create the embryo, making the baby biologically related to the couple. Although surrogacy requires giving up much control, this approach is an excellent option for older women who have had trouble carrying a pregnancy.
With modern fertility treatment, women over 45 have more options to become mothers. Whether the final decision is IVF or surrogacy, pregnancy is still possible at an older age. Older moms are often financially secure, more experienced and ready to welcome a baby in the world. With fertility treatment, this dream can become a reality.