Debunking & Demystifying Conception After 35
Over the last 9 years, Labor of Love has received many questions and concerns when it comes to conception after 35. Let’s break down some of these beliefs so that we can become more informed about our bodies, birth and motherhood.
Currently, around the world, the average age for first time mothers is 31. A huge change from the ripe old age of 21 in the 1980s. More and more couples are waiting to start their family for a myriad of reasons; financial, career, school, travel, etc. So many people are now waiting until their 30's to conceive and in doing so it pushes subsequent pregnancies into one's mid to late 30s, and possibly even early 40s.
I was 33 when I had my first child and 35 with my second. Many of the questions our clients have, I had myself when tying to conceive; so let’s get into it:
The likelihood of conceiving after 35 is slim.
Now, as I entered my 30’s and started to think about having a baby I was very concerned that we would not be able to conceive. I started my period at the very old age of 9 and thought that would decrease my chances even more. I was so concerned that I made an appointment with my care provider to discuss my fears and the advice she gave me was surprising!!
I walked into her office with all my concerns and questions that I had gathered, all the statistics and information that I had heard, and she looked at me and said;
“We won't know if you can’t get pregnant until you try!” 🤪
So, the biggest thing here to understand is that you need to try first. It maybe surprisingly easy and all the stress and worry could be for nothing.
With that said, it could take a little longer to get pregnant after 30. As we age the probability of conceiving after 30 in any given month is about a 20% chance. Now I know that statistic seems low at first glance and may give you some
alarm; however, that percentage is just a small drop of 5%. In our 20’s the probability of conceiving in any given month is 25%. So, don’t dismay. Try, try, and then, try again!
Unless there are other circumstance and issues, women can technically conceive if they are still releasing eggs and haven’t gone through menopause. Keep in mind that in our late 30’s it can take a year or more to get pregnant. For my first, at 32, it took 6 months.
The likelihood of conceiving spontaneously, without intervention, is slim after 35.
Again, you will not know until you try. And, as we learned above, it may take more time. More time to be intimate and get to know your partner, so enjoy. Stress will inhibit conception and nothing kills the moment more than stress and pressure to make a baby.
In addition, there are some things you can to help your fertility along.
Prioritize your physical and mental health. Yes, that means eat right, avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine. Maintain a healthy weight and don’t smoke. In addition, lower your stress levels and invest in your peace of mind and investing in calmness on a daily basis.
Get to know your body and track your cycle. Pay attention to fertility signs such as cervical fluid and basal body temperature. The book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a great place to start to understand your body and its fertility signs.
Take a home fertility test which will help you figure out when you are ovulating.
Add supplements to your diet that promote healthy fertility such as myo-inosital.
See your care provider if you feel it's taking longer than what is desired. They can address any concerns and help with medical history and pre-conception support.
See a fertility specialist to increase your chances of a natural way to conceive.
The likelihood of conceiving a healthy baby after 35 is slim.
Let’s talk about your menstrual cycle. We know the process pretty well; an egg is released and then waits to be fertilized. If it’s fertilized (VOILA), you’re pregnant. If it’s not fertilized you shed it along with the lining of your uterus, and (VOILA) you get your period.
During your lifetime, as a person that menstruates, your body will choose the healthiest eggs to be fertilized first. That means that all the periods you had in your teens and twenties the healthiest eggs were released first. This process contributes to the increased statistics of chromosomal abnormalities, which can lead to birth defects such as Down Syndrome, the older you are when you conceive. This is also the reason for extra genetic testing for those over 35.
With that said, the risk of having a baby with chromosomal abnormality after 35 is still overall very small. The percentages do increase the older you get AND those percentages are still low for what is gained.
After 35, your risk is .002% and at 40 it’s 1% chance of chromosomal abnormalities. Again, the older you are, the more tests you will be offered to ensure the health of your baby. This by no way means that your pregnancy is high risk. It simply means that your provider wants to ensure that your baby is healthy on arrival, and/or has what it needs in the case that something is detected.
With all this in mind, conceiving after 35 can also increase your risk of miscarriage. Due to the same process as above, healthier eggs being released first, if an unhealthy egg is released and fertilized it can lead to miscarriage. The risk increases from 15% in our 20’s to 20-35% after 35. That means that on average 80% of women after the age of 35 years old have healthy full term pregnancies.
Your chance of having multiples increases with age!
Yes, as you age and your menstruation window comes to a close, you have a greater probability of releasing multiple eggs at a time. That means that the possibility of twins and/or multiples increases with your age at conception. After 35 your risk is 5% and after 45 that risk of multiples increases to 20%. So, if you have waited there is a chance you can be blessed with more than one baby!! Sounds like a plus in every aspect to me!!
With all this said, know that fertility is very individual and don’t take any one else’s story or experience as your own. Your ability to conceive is dependent on so many factors; the genetics of you and your partner, lifestyle, diet, habits, stress level, and so on. Have patience and treat yourself kindly. Connect to your body and your partner in a beautiful and loving way. Seek professional help and answers if needed.
Best of luck!