More and more women are becoming pregnant after the age of 40. Late-onset pregnancy is a constantly growing phenomenon. The latest INSEE estimates tell us that late fertility has never been at such a high level since 1979.
What is late pregnancy?
Women's biological hormones mean that fertility declines with age. From a medical point of view, we speak of late pregnancy from the age of 40. More and more women are having children at an advanced age. The average age of first pregnancy is now around 29-30.
There are many reasons for lhe increase in late pregnancies, but the most common are as follows:
- Changes in society and in the status of women: long studies, careers, contraception ;
- Advances in medically assisted procreation (PMA is covered by social security up to the age of 43).
At what age can a woman become pregnant naturally?
To understand why fertility declines with age, we need to go back to theembryonic stage. The ovaries form at this stage, and women are born with a predetermined number of eggs.
These eggs are at rest until puberty arrives, when they are used during menstrual cycles. There comes a time when there are no more eggs.
Moreover, egg quality declines over time. This is not the case for everyone: some women will have no problem getting pregnant by the age of 40, while others will find it difficult from the age of l30.
Generally speaking, it is estimated that fertility begins to decline after the age of 30, and declines even further after the age of 37.
What are the chances of becoming a mother after 40?
It's a question many people ask: is it still possible to get pregnant after 40? The figures agree that the risk of not getting pregnant spontaneously increases markedly with age, following this trend:
- From 4% to 20 years ;
- From 14% to 35 ;
- From 35% to 40 ;
- From 80% to 45 ;
After the age of 45, it is estimated that women enter an age when pregnancies are considered "at risk", since complications can arise in 20 to 30% of cases.
Natural fertility rates
Even if you're in good health, fertility declines dramatically after the age of 40. IF you are planning to become pregnant, we recommend that you make an appointment for a pre-conception consultation. Late pregnancies are closely monitored.
To increase your chances of a natural pregnancy after 35, there are several changes you can make:
- Stop smoking;
- Reducing alcohol consumption;
- Take up sport and eat a more balanced diet;
- Reduce your caffeine intake: caffeine reduces your chances of getting pregnant and increases the risk of miscarriage. If you're trying to get pregnant, it's best to reduce your caffeine intake.
Don't hesitate to consult your doctor to check your general state of health. Sometimes simple disorders can lead to hormonal imbalances that make conception more complicated, even though they are easily treatable.
Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAP)
PMA is covered by social security in France up to the age of 43, as explained above. Older women wishing to have a child often travel to foreign countries. In Spain, for example, the age limit for egg donation is 50. But other countries, such as the USA, have no age limit.
If you're having trouble getting pregnant, it's possible to determine the cause of infertility in around 70% of cases. There may be several causes, and identifying them will lead to the best treatment.
As explained above, if you're planning a pregnancy and you're over 40, it's advisable to make an appointment with a doctor. This will enable you to ask questions, take into account your health history and offer you the most appropriate follow-up.
What are the advantages of late pregnancy?
Many women are getting pregnant later and later. And there are several advantages to this. Firstly, it's important to bear in mind that habits have changed, and more and more people are choosing to start a family late. Education lasts longer than it used to, and many people now meet their partners late in life. Many wait until they have a stable situation before embarking on a baby project!
What are the risks of late pregnancy?
However, it's important to bear in mind that a late pregnancy presents risks for both the woman and the baby.
For pregnant women
For the pregnant woman, late pregnancy presents a risk of arterial hypertension and gestational diabetes. These risks are all the greater when the pregnant woman is older. Pregnancy after the age of 40 entails risks of :
- Premature birth ;
- Low birth weight babies;
- Chromosomal abnormalities;
- An increase in stillbirths.
But with good gynecological care, pregnancy generally goes smoothly.
Also bear in mind that if you got pregnant with MAP, IVF and egg donation, the risk of hypertensionand pre-eclampsia is higher than with normal IVF.
For the baby
Late pregnancy also presents risks for the child, with miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities. In fact, egg quality declines as you get older. But don't worry: tests will be carried out to determine the extent of the risk.
Among chromosomal abnormalities, trisomy 21 is the most common, affecting 1 in 400 pregnancies. In France, all women are free to undergo screening for trisomy 21 during their pregnancy. However, screening is not compulsory.
What is the medical follow-up for a late pregnancy?
Late pregnancies are closely monitored. Especially during the first trimester, which is the most complicated period for women over 40. This is when you have the greatest chance of miscarriage.
Ultrasound scans may be more frequent, andtime off work given by the doctor may come more suddenly.
Blood pressure and gestational diabetes are also closely monitored.
Does late pregnancy complicate childbirth?
Childbirth can also be a little more complicated in the case of a late pregnancy: the risk of complications increases slightly. By complications we mean the risk of a perineal tear, or a delivery requiring the intervention of a medical team (caesarean section, etc.).
Late pregnancy FAQs
What is the age limit for having a baby?
The only age limit for pregnancy is that of the woman's biological clock. After the menopause, a woman no longer has her periods and her ovaries no longer produce eggs. It is therefore no longer possible to become pregnant. According to the Améli health authority, the age of menopause is between 45 and 55.
Can I get pregnant at 47?
Yes, it is possible to become pregnant at 47, but the risks associated with a late pregnancy are higher than those of a pregnancy at 30. What's more, your menopause must not have begun. We recommend that you discuss your pregnancy plans with a doctor.
What is the age of the woman who gave birth the latest?
Prabha Devi gave birth to a baby girl in India at the age of 75, breaking the record for the world's latest pregnancy. This was not a natural pregnancy; she underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF) and gave birth 6 months later by Caesarean section.