7 Things You Need to Know About Getting Pregnant After 35

What Your Real Odds Are, Whether Healthy Habits Matter, and When to Get Help

Midsection Of Man Holding Pregnant Woman Hand In Hospital

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Whether you’re trying to conceive after 35, or not yet there but thinking about the future, here are seven things you need to know about getting pregnant after 35.

Getting Pregnant After 35 Is Not Impossible

Whenever the topic of conceiving after 35 comes up, there’s always someone who says, “But I know so many people who had their kids after 35. It can’t be that difficult!” No expert claims it’s impossible. It’s just more likely you may have trouble conceiving. 

One large study looked at pregnancy rates for women if they have sexual intercourse on their most fertile day. Here’s what they found: Women ages 19 to 26 years old had a slightly more than 50% chance of conceiving on their most fertile day.

Women ages 27 to 34 years old had a slightly less than 40% chance of conceiving. Women age 35 to 39 had a slightly less than 30% chance of getting pregnant. 

It’s important to point out that miscarriage rates were not researched in this particular study, but we know from other research that the rate of miscarriage increases with age, as well as the rate of certain birth defects. So those rates aren’t live birth rates—those would be lower.

Those are the odds of success per month. What about your odds of conception over many cycles? 

Another study looked at how long it took to conceive over many cycles at various ages, taking into consideration only live births. Miscarriage rates are included here. About 75% of women who start trying to conceive at age 30 conceive within one year. After four years of trying, pregnancy success rates are 91%.

About 66% of women conceive within a year who start trying at age 35. After four years, 84% eventually get pregnant and have a baby. Only 44% of women age 40 conceive within a year of trying and go on to give birth. After four years of additional trying, 64% eventually conceive and give birth.

Your Partner’s Age Matters

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: if your partner is five years older than you, and you’re over 35, your odds for conception are lower.

In that same study cited above, the one that looked at conception rates on a woman’s most fertile days, women ages 35 to 39 with similarly aged partners had a conception rate of 29%. But, if their male partner was five years older, their success rate dropped to 18%.

Again, these rates don’t take into consideration miscarriage rates, and miscarriage and birth defect rates do increase with male and female age. Male age does matter.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Time is of the essence after 35. For this reason, it’s really important you don’t delay seeking help if you can’t conceive after 6 months. It may seem strange to get help quickly whenever you know that your age naturally lowers your monthly fertility odds. There are women who may not conceive on their own in 6 months but then will conceive naturally after a year, or even 2 years.

Even so, it’s better to get fertility testing done after just 6 months of trying if you’re 35 or older. If there is a fertility problem found, you will be more likely to have success in treating it sooner than later. If there are no obvious fertility problems, your doctor may suggest you continue trying to conceive naturally for another few months and come back if you still don’t succeed. 

What will happen at the doctor? For you, a few blood tests, an ultrasound, and a specialized x-ray, known as an HSG, should be done, at the very least. For your partner, a semen analysis should be ordered. Once the results of those basic fertility tests return, you and your doctor can decide the next steps to take.

Fertility Treatment and Age-Related Infertility

Speaking of fertility treatments, don’t delay seeking help thinking that fertility treatments will make up for the lost time. Unfortunately, fertility treatments are less successful with age.

One study looked at conception rates for women who start trying to conceive at age 30, 35, and 40, and then whether fertility treatments could make up for the pregnancies lost from delaying childbearing.

They found that fertility treatments could only make up for half of the successful pregnancies lost when delaying conception until age 35 instead of starting at age 30, and only make up for 30% of the healthy pregnancies lost when women delayed starting at age 40 instead of at age 35. 

When looking at pregnancy success rates for fertility drugs like Clomid, or for fertility procedures like IUI or IVF, keep in mind that age and cause of infertility matters. Your odds for pregnancy success with IUI treatment at age 27 is very different from when you're 37.

Healthy Living Can Help Boost Your Odds of Conception

Though tempting, don’t assume your age is the only reason you’re not conceiving quickly. When you’re over 35, you already have your age possibly working against you. It just makes good sense to be sure the factors you can control are working for you. 

For example, you may want to:

Eating healthier, dropping fertility-busting habits, and maintaining a healthy weight may not only help you conceive faster than someone who doesn’t live a healthy lifestyle but can also boost your odds for fertility treatment success if you do need treatments.

Don’t forget about mind-body therapies as well. While research hasn’t yet found a strong link between mind-body therapies like yoga and fertility, there’s a possibility these stress-reducing activities may help. This applies to men and women, by the way. It takes two to make a baby. And yes, diet and lifestyle habits can impact male and female fertility.

Healthy Living Can’t Stop Age-Related Fertility Decline

With all that said, living a healthy life won’t stop age-related fertility declines. It’s true that certain unhealthy habits can increase the rate of fertility decline. For example, women who smoke have eggs that age faster.

However, it’s also true that even the men and women who eat great, exercise, and stay away from unhealthy habits still age (of course!), and therefore experience age-related fertility decline like anyone else. If only we could stop aging all together with more veggies and a daily workout.

Don’t Have Kids Until You’re Ready

For those that wish to have children one day, it’s really important they know about fertility and age. This way, they can make educated decisions about when to start a family, and not feel quite as shocked if they can’t conceive as easily as they imagined at age 40.

However, no one should be pressured to have kids before they feel ready. Readiness to have children should still come before your declining fertility rates. Use information about age-related fertility decline to make informed decisions—not to pressure yourself, or others.

A Word From Verywell

Getting pregnant after age 35 isn't as easy as it is at 25, but for most women, it's doable. If you're beating yourself up for "waiting too long" to start a family, try to be forgiving. If you weren't ready to have kids when you were younger, you weren't ready.

That's okay. It's better than going ahead and having kids when it's the wrong time. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is possible for most women to have kids later in life. Try to live a healthy lifestyle, be sure to see your primary care physician for a general wellness check, and if you don't get pregnant after 6 months, talk to your gynecologist.

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