How common is pregnancy after age 35?
Over the past few decades, more and more women have chosen to start families in their later thirties. In fact, the number of pregnancies occurring in women at least 35 years of age has increased from 6.2 percent in 1980 to 22.3 percent in 20161. Starting a family later in life can have many benefits, including financial and social security. However, there are some considerations surrounding pregnancy after age 35.
How does your reproduction change as you age?
A woman experiences their peak reproductive years in their late teens through their late 20s. When you reach age 30, your fertility begins to gradually decline. The decline gets quicker in your mid-30s, and by age 45, natural pregnancy is unlikely for most women. Men’s fertility can also decrease with age, but this decrease is not as predictable2.
How likely am I to get pregnant after age 35?
Healthy partners in their 20s and 30s have a 25 percent chance of conceiving during one menstrual cycle. This likelihood decreases by age 40, when couples have a 10 percent chance of conceiving with each menstrual cycle2.
What are some risks to pregnancy after age 35?
While most mothers can deliver healthy babies after age 35, pregnancy at a later age does carry some risks. Compared with younger women, pregnant women over 35 years of age have an increased risk of:
- Gestational diabetes
- Caesarean section (C-section)
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
- Other medical complications
In addition, your baby may also be at increased risk of:
- Premature birth
- Low birthweight3
Some of these risks, such as gestational diabetes, can be reduced with lifestyle interventions.
What options do I have if I have trouble conceiving?
As aforementioned, woman over age 40 have a 10 percent chance of conceiving with each menstrual period2. Likewise, you may have trouble getting pregnant at a later age. There are a few methods to explore if you are struggling with fertility or plan to have children later:
- IVF. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) encompasses all types of fertility treatments. The main type of ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF) 4. In IVF, sperm and a woman’s eggs are combined to fertilize the egg, potentially creating an embryo2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, 330,77 ART cycles in 2019 resulted in a total of 77,998 live births. IVF can be particularly helpful for those over age 35 who are having trouble getting pregnant4.
- FREEZING YOUR EGGS. This procedure removes unfertilized eggs from your ovaries. These eggs are frozen to use later in life via IVF. It is sometimes a good option for women that want to wait to have children but are concerned about their decline in fertility2.
- MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. Keeping you and your partner healthy is important not just to conceiving but also to your baby if you become pregnant. A nutritious diet full of vegetables, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fats can improve fertility for both women and men. A diet with less nutritious foods, such as sugar and saturated fats, is associated with worse fertility outcomes. Additionally, obesity (defined as a body mass index (BMI) of greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2) in both men and women can increase infertility risk. Underweight women with a BMI of less than 20 kg/m2 may also have trouble getting pregnant5.
It is possible and likely that you will have a successful pregnancy after age 35, but it is important to consider your risks and options before conceiving.
- Heazell, A. E. P., Newman, L., Lean, S. C., & Jones, R. L. (2018). Pregnancy outcome in mothers over the age of 35. Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 30(6), 337–343.
- Having a baby after age 35: How aging affects fertility and pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2022
- Jolly, M. (2000). The risks associated with pregnancy in women aged 35 years or older. Human Reproduction, 15(11), 2433–2437.
- Art success rates | cdc. (2021, December 23).
- Panth, N., Gavarkovs, A., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The influence of diet on fertility and the implications for public health nutrition in the united states. Frontiers in Public Health, 6, 211.
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