Fertility Over 40

If we believed everything we read in the tabloids, we would think that anyone who was over 40 could get pregnant easily with IVF and have twins the first go around. I wish this were the truth. However, the facts are, if you’re over 40, you have a 5% chance of getting pregnant in every cycle. If you’re going to try to get pregnant over 40, it is recommended that you make an appointment with your local fertility specialist.

Fertility is not skin deep. It doesn’t matter how great you look on the outside or what shape you are in. So many of my patients over 40 look like they could easily pass for early 30s. The bottom line is, we were born with all the eggs we will ever have and we run out of eggs over time.

If trying to conceive after 40, here is your best course of action:

  • Talk to your doctor about your fertile potential. Have your FSH and estradiol levels checked as well as an antimullerian hormone level. Have your doctor administer an ultrasound to measure the number of follicles on your ovary, also called an antral follicle count. Hormone levels can be tested that candetermine if you are fertile or not. One of the hormones your doctor will check is a follicle stimulating hormone level (FSH). FSH is a hormone secreted by the brain. As your FSH level rises, your fertility declines. If you have a high FSH and your doctor tells you pregnancy is not possible with your own eggs you can consider using donor eggs (eggs of someone in their 20s). Currently up to 15% of IVF cycles in this country are being done with donor eggs.
  • Learn the risks associated with getting pregnant over 40.  Autism risk and risk of chromosomal abnormalities go up as we get older. Knowing your risk will make you more knowledgeable about how to approach your pregnancy once you are pregnant.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: make sure you have a normal body mass index (calculate it with a simple online calculator), don’t drink excess alcohol and limit caffeine intake. Exercise to keep not only your body in shape, but your mind in shape, and take time to tend to your relationships with your partner and your surrounding community and friends.

If you’re trying to get pregnant over 40, know that you’re not alone. Educating yourself and understanding your fertility potential is key and will help as you go through the process.

Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, is a native of the Bay Area. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Medicine. After completing her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, she completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at University of Michigan. She also completed a Masters in Public Health in Health Management and Policy at University of Michigan.  Dr. Aimee is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and continues to contribute to research in the field of reproductive endocrinology and infertility.  You can learn more on her website: http://draimee.org/.