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. This is what you should know…If you’re over 40, you have a 5% chance of getting pregnant in every menstrual cycle. If you’re going to try to get pregnant over 40, see your local fertility specialist now.
Fertility is not skin deep. It doesn’t matter how great you look on the outside. So many of my patients over 40 look like they could easily pass for early 30s, even 20s. We were born with all the eggs we will ever have and we run out of eggs over time.
This is what I recommend:
1. Talk to your doctor about your fertile potential. Have your FSH and estradiol levels checked as well as an antimullerian hormone level. Your doctor can do an ultrasound and measure the number of follicles on your ovary. This assessment is called an antral follicle count. There are hormones that we check that can tell you 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). Know that 10-15% of IVF cycles in this country are now being done with donor eggs. When a man runs out of sperm, we use donor sperm. Women now have options for them too.
2. 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 your more knowledgeable about how to approach your pregnancy once you are pregnant.
3. Maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible: 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. Understand your fertile potential and learn about your fertility treatment options.