If you are over 40 and trying to grow your family, you may be wondering what path gives you the best chance for success. You are not alone! In fact, births among women ages 40-44 have been rising since the early 1980s, even as the overall U.S. birth rate fell to a record low. This is partly due to more people putting off parenthood for a variety of reasons, plus better access to assisted reproductive technology like IVF and egg donation.
It is absolutely possible to get pregnant and carry a healthy pregnancy in your 40s — let’s dive into the data around your possible paths to pregnancy.
Getting pregnant naturally over 40
While getting pregnant naturally over 40 tends to surprise people, it’s totally possible. Researchers found that for women 40-45, the crude probability of getting pregnant after trying (“naturally”) for a year was 55.5%. This compares to nearly 80% for women ages 25–27. However, it’s important to note that chances of miscarriage go up significantly. For women 40-45, one study found the chance of miscarriage is about 33.3% and goes up to 57% for women over 45.
But some people don’t want to wait a year to see if they are part of the lucky 55% who get pregnant, or they want to reduce their chances of miscarriage. If this is the case, read on to see the chances of pregnancy with fertility treatments over 40.
Getting pregnant with IUI over 40
Let’s look at the data from 2,262 patients pursuing IUI, or intrauterine insemination. IUI is often used because it’s relatively inexpensive (at least compared to IVF), and quick. For the women aged 40-41, the chances of pregnancy per cycle were 9%. That number dropped to 6% for women 42-43, and to 3.5% for women over 43.
The odds of IUI working at any age aren’t great. And it still doesn’t solve for the increased chance of miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities. That’s why some families turn to IVF.
Getting pregnant with IVF over 40
What are the chances of getting pregnant with IVF over 40? Age is one of the biggest factors in the ability to get pregnant. And even with IVF, the chances of success with our own eggs declines as we reach our 40s. The great part about IVF is that you can find out if an embryo is genetically normal (and thus less likely to miscarry) before you attempt a transfer. This can save time and heartache.
Data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology shows the following chances of a live singleton birth using your own eggs via IVF:
- 38.3% for women 35-37
- 25.1% for women age 38-40
- 12.7% for women age 41-42
- 4.1% for women over 42
It’s important to remember that your age when you get pregnant is not as important as the age of the eggs with which you get pregnant.
It’s important to remember that your age when you get pregnant is not as important as the age of the eggs with which you get pregnant. That means your chances of success getting pregnant, no matter your age now, is better with younger eggs. But how do you get younger eggs? For some lucky women, they can use eggs they froze years ago. But for most of us, getting younger eggs means turning to egg donation. And that brings us to our final section: getting pregnant with donor eggs.
Getting pregnant with donor eggs over 40
IVF can be thought of in three parts. First, there’s retrieving the eggs. Second, there’s fertilizing the eggs to make embryos. And third, a healthy embryo is transferred to the uterus to begin a pregnancy. When you use donor eggs during IVF, everything is the same except it’s the egg donor who undergoes the egg retrieval in the first part.
Many women in their 40s still carry the pregnancy, even when using donor eggs. Although some need to use a gestational carrier for a variety of reasons.
The good news is this: studies show that your chances of success using donor eggs does not diminish in your 40s. You read that right! Using donor eggs can greatly increase your chances of a successful and healthy baby well into your 40s.
How many tries does it take to get pregnant with donor eggs?
For many people beginning the journey to use donor eggs, you may have already tried unsuccessfully with your own eggs and are eager to get pregnant as quickly as possible. Well here’s the good news: it is estimated that the probability of success reaches roughly 90% after three embryo transfers. This of course varies patient to patient, and your doctor should be able to give you a better idea of your chances based on your medical history.
Can I use donor eggs over 50?
In a study of women who became pregnant from egg donation, researchers at Columbia University found that women over age 50 do not appear to face any greater risk than those under 43. That doesn’t mean there’s no risk in pregnancy over 50, and anyone in this age group should undergo thorough medical screening before attempting pregnancy to ensure the best possible outcome.
If you are pursuing donor eggs, we’d love to help. Our Family by Co platform serves as a more transparent, ethical egg donor matching platform. We are obsessed with improving the family-building journey and are in an endless pursuit to make these experiences more positive. Sign up for a free account today.
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