If you are a woman who wants to carry a child at some point, you are probably aware that fertility declines as you age which may worry you about your chances of conception as you get older.
Although you may not have heard the term advanced maternal age, you have probably heard your doctor, friends, or family talk about the chances of getting pregnant after 35. We’ll look at some of the basic information about advanced maternal age and pregnancy after age 35.
What is Advanced Maternal Age?
When a woman is over a certain age when she’s pregnant, she may be categorized as being of “advanced maternal age” (AMA). Generally advanced maternal age is considered 35 years old and over. However, some definitions put it at 40 or older.
If a woman is pregnant for the first time, she is referred to as “primigravida” in medical terms. If the first time mother is over 35, she is sometimes referred to as an elderly primigravida. The term “geriatric pregnancy” is also sometimes used. While these are terms used in the medical field, in no way is a woman who is 35 or older automatically elderly or of advanced age in general.
The reason that these categories exist is due to the decline in female fertility as a woman ages. A woman is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have in her ovaries, so as she ages, her egg supply is depleted and ovulation will become irregular and eventually stop. Fertility steadily beings to decline in the early thirties and then more sharply between 35 and 40.
Is Getting Pregnant After 35 Difficult?
While it is true that maternal age is the greatest predictor of fertility success, it is not impossible to have a successful pregnancy after you turn 35. In recent years, the number of women who get pregnant after age 35 has increased significantly. Currently, about 10% of babies born in the United States were born to first-time mothers 35 or older. Some of this can be attributed to the advancement of fertility treatments.
Although it is possible, you do need to keep in mind that getting pregnant with advanced maternal age usually takes longer. As a woman ages, she ovulates less regularly and the quality of her eggs declines which can make conception difficult. Additionally, if an inferior egg is fertilized, the chances of genetic issues and miscarriage increase.
Another consideration is that women over 35 are more likely to have a partner who is also over the age of 35. Male factor infertility does become more of a problem as a man ages as well, just not as quickly as female infertility.
Are There Complications Related to Getting Pregnant After 35?
While many, even most, women over 35 have uncomplicated, healthy pregnancies and deliveries, statistically the rates of certain complications increase after age 35. Your doctor can advise you on steps you can take to reduce your risks if you get pregnant after 35. Some of the risks you should be aware of are risks associated with some pregnancies in general but those risks also increase with age. They include:
- Getting pregnant with multiples, which increases the risk of complications as well
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature birth
- High blood pressure
- Low birthweight
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Getting Pregnant after 35?
If you are concerned about getting pregnant after 35, there are things you can do to make your chances of conceiving better. Most of them involve healthy lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. Being at your healthiest physically, mentally, and emotionally will increase your chances of getting pregnant. Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of getting pregnant after 35 and having a healthy baby:
- Get a comprehensive preconception checkup
- Treat any chronic health conditions you have
- Get to a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking
- Limit or quit drinking alcohol
- Take a daily multivitamin with at least 400 mg folic acid
- Ask your doctor if they recommend any other supplements
If you are over 35 and you do not successfully conceive after six months of trying (having regular unprotected intercourse), you should consider consulting a fertility specialist.
A fertility specialist, like those at Carolina Conceptions, can examine you and your partner to evaluate your fertility. They may provide lifestyle and conception advice or recommend certain treatments like in-vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), or controlled ovarian stimulation. They can also counsel you on things like using sperm or egg donors or using a gestational carrier.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have questions about getting pregnant after 35 or advanced maternal age in general, Carolina Conceptions can help. We understand that trying to conceive or dealing with fertility issues, no matter your age, can be an emotional process and want to help make the journey as easy as possible. Since opening in 2006 we have assisted with the conception of over 5,000 babies. Our team includes experienced fertility doctors specializing in reproductive endocrinology and nurses and staff that make our patients feel at ease during what can be a tumultuous time. You can call us at (919) 782-5911 or request an appointment online.