Pregnancy is a blissful phase for a woman but it can turn into a challenge once she comes of age. Mid-thirties are seen as a fertility milestone by most doctors and pregnancy for women over 40 is an uphill task. At the same time, lifestyle changes have resulted in more and more couples postponing parenthood till a later age. However, continuous advancement in medical technology has ushered in new reproductive techniques to counter age related female infertility, making pregnancy possible for women in their forties.
Despite the fact that there is medical aid at hand, older women who plan pregnancy should be aware of the implications and complications they are likely to face in getting pregnant and those that may plague them during pregnancy. The idea is to be prepared and make the pregnancy as safe and uneventful as possible, so that such women can experience the miracle of birth even at an advanced age.
Age and Fertility Status
It is undeniable that fertility of a woman is directly linked with her age, because of the biological clock ticking and fertility being reduced with every passing year. A female is born with millions of eggs but unfortunately, the egg reserve gets depleted with age. Fertility is at its best till the twenties, after which it starts ebbing slowly yet steadily. As the woman crosses mid-thirties, the decline becomes more rapid and by the time she reaches her forties, the odds get far lower and the probability of getting pregnant with her own eggs is almost negligible.
In addition to age related female infertility, another factor that has a significant influence on a woman’s chances to conceive is the age of her partner. Older women have older partners and needless to say there is deterioration in sperm quality and count too. As a result, the fertility status of women over 40 becomes doubtful and most of the women have to see assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF and donor eggs for experiencing the joy of motherhood.
Risks related to pregnancy at advanced maternal age
Numerous risks are associated with the decision of postponing parenthood to advanced maternal age. The risk factors apply to both, the mother and the baby, making pregnancy after 40 complicated in a majority of cases. Here are some of them:
Just as the chances of female infertility increase after crossing a certain age, the rate of miscarriages go up too, spurting suddenly after a woman enters her forties. The chance of a pregnancy ending in miscarriage is as high as 25% at the age of 40 (as compared to 20% in the thirties) and it goes up dramatically by the time she reaches the mid-forties. The probable cause is that the eggs lose their viability at a later age and chromosomal defects in the fetus.
The incidence of pregnancy related complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension is higher in older women, making pregnancy difficult for them. Older women are likely to feel more tired during pregnancy as compared to the younger ones, with aches and pains as well as physical fatigue being common.
Advanced maternal age is one of the main causes of complicated labor as problems related placenta and uterus are more prevalent in women over 40. The chances of C-section deliveries become higher, while preterm labor, low birth weight of the baby and stillbirth become common in older mothers.
Older women have older male partners and the advanced age of the parents has a direct influence over the quality of eggs and sperms. For instance, the chance of a 40 year old mother conceiving a baby affected by Down syndrome s 1 in 100 and it goes up to 1 in 30 for a mother over 45. As a result, the risk of genetic defects in the fetus gets elevated. Fetal screening tests such as amniocentesis, fetal DNA blood testing and chorionic villus sampling can give a fair idea of chromosome related defects in the unborn child.
The risks related to late pregnancy are many in number, yet it has its share of benefits too. Older women tend to be better equipped for parenting as they have the virtues of wisdom, experience and patience. Older parents are financially secure as they may have had the best of their careers before plunging into parenthood, which definitely makes them capable of giving better facilities to their offspring.
Despite the fact that older women face infertility issues and also numerous risks and complications, yet there is no need to be disheartened. There are still hundreds of older women who cruise safely through pregnancy. Constant monitoring and regular tests and scans can help the doctor detect any complications in time so that they can be treated in an effective manner. The options like IVF, sperm donation and egg donation should also be considered where there are doubts regarding the viability of sperms and eggs in older couples. At the same time, it is vital to follow a healthy lifestyle and stay stress-free to enhance fertility as well as make pregnancy after 40 a safe one.
Gaudium IVF is the best IVF Centre in Delhi, India which is reputed to bring advanced infertility techniques and the best gynecological care for its patients. The clinic helps patients deal with pregnancy related complications such as those linked with advanced maternal age. Contact here for free second opinion from Dr Manika Khanna, the top infertility specialist in India.