Is it Safe to Get Pregnant After 35

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More and more women are having children in their late 30s and early 40s.  Several years ago, this was rare for most women.  Not only was it difficult for many women to get pregnant, but it also increased their chances of having children with health problems.  Fortunately, medical advances in the field of fertility and genetic testing pregnancy from accredited laboratories like have made it easier for women to get pregnant as they get older.  This means that pregnancy after the age of 35 might be a positive experience for you.  However, it also comes with its set of challenges, and it is not a guarantee.  The following information will help you understand what lies ahead if you pursue pregnancy.

Fertility Problems

Fertility is a problem that many women face as they want to become mothers.  The older a woman is, the more likely she is to experience trouble with fertility.  This is not necessarily the case for all older women as they try to have children.  However, most women tend to experience a drop in their fertility after the age of 30.  As they reach their late 30s, it is common for them to ovulate less.  In addition, their eggs are often harder to fertilize.  Some women also develop common medical problems that make it more difficult to get pregnant such as blockages in the fallopian tubes and endometriosis.

Fortunately, there have been several advances in the medical world to combat these fertility problems.  The following are the most common options available:

  • Fertility drugs
  • Donor sperm
  • Artificial insemination
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Donor eggs
  • Donor embryos
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
  • Reproductive surgery

It is important to understand that most of these options can be costly.  Typically, your insurance will not cover the expense since it is not a medical necessity.

Genetic Testing

Since you are considering pregnancy in your late 30s or early 40s, you might want to take advantage of genetic testing and counseling.  Although this is a personal issue, it might help you understand the risk involved with carrying a baby later on in your life.  After all, the likelihood of birth defects and miscarriage increases as you age.  Through counseling and testing, you can get a better idea of the associated risks. 

Many people take genetic tests prior to pregnancy.  These tests can help you to understand if you or your partner carries specific genes that can trigger diseases in your baby.  From the test results you will learn the following:

  • If you both do not carry the gene, your baby is not going to inherit the condition.
  • If you carry the gene, but your partner does not (or the opposite), your baby is not going to inherit the condition.
  • If both you and your partner are carriers, there is a 1 and 4 chance that your baby will inherit the condition.

The tests can screen for some of the most common genetic diseases including, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, tay-sachs diseae, and fragile X syndrome.

Pregnancy Problems

Another issue to consider with a pregnancy over the age of 35 is that it might have more complications.  In most cases, this is due to preexisting conditions rather than age.  Regardless, older women need to pay more attention to their health so they do not overdo it.  In particular, they should be eating a good diet, exercising, and taking the recommended amount of folic acid each day.  It is also important for them to manage any preexisting conditions that they might have so that it does not affect their health during pregnancy.

Labor and Birth Complications

While there is no evidence that suggests your baby will be at risk during the birth because you are older, some statistics do indicate that women over 35 experience longer births.  This could be due to blood pressure problems, labor inductions, or other reasons.  It also explains why these older women are more likely to receive a cesarean section than a younger woman.  However, with the help of a good physician, you should not need to worry about the birth.  To prepare yourself, you can always attend birthing classes.

The good news about pregnancy later in life is that is possible if you want a child of your own.  With this information, you can determine if having a baby is a risk you feel is worth taking.

Image via Slate

Sarah Pinkerton

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