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What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant After 40?

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Updated May 21, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Question: What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant After 40?
Answer:

Getting pregnant after 40 is possible without fertility treatment, but your chances of having trouble conceiving are higher.

Of woman ages 40 to 44, 29% will experience infertility. You can compare this to woman in their early 20s, of which 7% experience infertility, or women in their early 30s, who experience infertility 15% of the time.

Your chances of conceiving in any given month are also lower once you pass the big 4-0. While a 30 year old has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month, a 40 year old only has a 5% chance per month. This means that even for those that will get pregnant, it may take longer.

Another factor working against women in their 40s who want to get pregnant is the higher rate of miscarriage. About 34% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women ages 40 to 44, and 53% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women after age 45.

Of course, you could try to look at this from the other side – even though 34% of pregnancies end in miscarriage for women in their early 40s, the majority of pregnancies do not.

While it’s best not to put off trying to get pregnant until your 40s, if you’re already there and wondering if it’s still possible for you, you should know it may still be.

Seeking Help in Your 40s

Because infertility is more likely after 40, and because with every year that passes your chances are lower, it’s important you seek help as soon as possible if you experience trouble conceiving. If after six months you’re still not pregnant, it’s time for an evaluation.

Also, if you have any symptoms or risk factors for infertility, then you should speak to your doctor before you even start trying.

Fertility Treatments Less Successful After 40

Another reason to see a doctor as soon as possible is that fertility treatments are less effective for women over 40. For example, IUI treatment success rates are as low as 5% for women in their 40s.

IVF treatment has slight better success rates – 15% per cycle – but that’s still not as good as it is for younger women. This rate quickly falls as the years go by as well. For women age 43, the percentage of live births per IVF cycle is just 6.2% according to the most recent statistics, and only a little more than 1% after age 44.

For some women, egg donation will give them the best chances for success after 40. Success rates for IVF with egg donation has 40 to 45% success rate per treatment cycle, regardless of age.

Sources:

Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates: 2006. National Summary and Fertility Clinic Report. Center for Disease Control. Accessed on December 10, 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/ART/ART2006/508PDF/2006ART.pdf

Age and Fertility: A Guide to Patients. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed on December 10, 2009. http://asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/agefertility.pdf

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