The hard facts about a woman’s chance of conceiving after 40 are gloomy at best. Not everyone realizes that women are born with all of their oocytes (eggs), of which roughly only 300 will be ovulated, up until menopause. Despite the presence of eggs, fertility really begins to drop off from 35 onward, and even more significantly from 40, due to age-related hormonal fluctuations.
Increased Risk Factors
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), married women between the ages of 40-44 have a 60% chance of remaining childless, and all women in this age group have a 34% risk of miscarriage. At 40, there’s a 1 in 106 risk of Down Syndrome.
The IVF Miracle Myth
Studies have shown that IVF does not significantly increase fertility in older women. In other words, it’s not the magic panacea for maternal aging. In women 40 and older, success rates have been generally less than 15% per cycle.
Increasingly, fertility doctors are encouraging women over 40 to use donor eggs from younger women, although natural conception is still possible.
A Diminishing Support Network
Women having children in their 40s are more likely to be part of a “sandwich generation,” responsible for the care of elderly parents as well as children, or more likely to have deceased parents. They are less likely to have the support of their peers, who are facing retirement age and have different interests.
Later Mothers Bring Abundant Benefits
Women over 40 bring many benefits and resources to motherhood that enable to them to make the most out of a longer life expectancy. Having waited so long, they are more likely to dedicate themselves to being healthy both during pregnancy and parenting in the long run.