How old is too old to have a baby?

Posted August 22

Recent studies reveal your biological clock will probably tick longer than you think. (Deseret Photo)

Women have long been warned to abstain from conceiving after 35 due to an increase in challenges and health risks while carrying. But despite this plea, a recent government report shows a significant increase in women who have had two children after they turn 35.

Are you wondering how this is possible or why this is a trend? Let’s debunk the myth and break the traditional thought that having babies in a women's late thirties is harmful and wrong.

The myth:

If you read about fertility in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Guide for patients, you will read that 33 percent of women who waited until they were 35 to start trying to get pregnant will not be able to conceive at all...terrifying right?

It's a good thing that is not the case; we have been raised on the common misconception that expecting children in the late thirties is nearly impossibly and highly dangerous. It is true a woman’s ability to get pregnant significantly decreases after her twenties, but it does not suddenly drop off after your mid-thirties. As you get older your reproduction cycle begins to slow so your likelihood to conceive requires more time trying.

Women should not be overly concerned by their age when trying to get pregnant. Instead, understanding their unique personal, social, professional and health circumstances will help them gauge whether becoming pregnant is a healthy and attainable goal.

Health and genetic tests should be taken to make sure health vitals are stable (for example: diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure). Folic acid and vitamin supplements should taken around the time of conception. Taking care of your body and understanding your limitations will allow you to decide whether conceiving is the right option instead of relying solely on age.

Why is conceiving after 35 challenging?

As a woman matures in age, their fertility decreases as she experiences less predictable ovulation. According to the American Pregnancy Organization, older women experience ovulation cycles where an egg is sometimes never released. Additionally, the egg quality noticeably decreases.

Along with a decrease of egg quality, women over the age of 35 experience endometriosis, decrease in cervical fluid, high blood pressure and an increased chance of developing diabetes.

How can you increase your odds of conceiving after 35?

It may seem daunting and hopeless at times while trying to get pregnant after you turn 35, but there are a few things to remember when trying to increase your chances of conceiving:

  • Meet with your OBGYN for a pre-conception appointment: Your physician can run scans and tests that can provide you with information regarding your medical history and the effects of medication you have taken in the past and present. These factor into your current lifestyle and help determine your likelihood for conception. Knowing concerns and challenges before trying can help you plan for your future.
  • Understand it takes more time: Women who are over the age of 35 take an average of 1-2 years to successfully conceive. Being aware of the time it takes will help provide emotional support through the process.
  • Attempt to understand your body: Understand your unique ovulation cycle. Recognizing the signs of when you are most fertile will help increase your odds of conceiving. If you are unsure when you are most likely to be able to conceive take an over-the-counter at home fertility screening test.
  • Improve egg quality: Women can take supplements containing folic acid, myo-inositol, and melatonin to help improve egg quality and likelihood of conception.
Is it healthy to try to conceive in your late thirties?

Recent research from Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS), reveals women who are able to have a child after 33 years old have been linked to living longer than women who had their last child before they turned 30.

The findings discovered the life expectancy to be a large difference; women who had their last child after 33 doubled their chances of living to age 95 or older than their counterparts.

The unique aspect of this study is the primary focus on the woman’s age at the time of her last child’s birth. This factor alerts researchers to note that if a woman is healthy enough to conceive so late in life, this could be a sign her lifestyle choices can be linked to a slower aging reproductive system.

Take the time to talk with your spouse and doctor to determine whether having a child later in life is a healthy choice for you and your family.

Hannah Rose is a story-telling enthusiast that finds joy in sharing insights and human experience. Connecting the world through written verse is a passion that drives her to pursue her journalistic endeavors.


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