What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant After 40?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30% of women between the ages of 40 and 44 experience infertility. Your chances of conceiving in any given month also become lower as you get older.

Each month, the average 30-year-old woman has about a 20% chance of getting pregnant. A 40-year-old only has a 5% chance of getting pregnant each month.

Infertility rates in women between the ages of 15 and 34 are 7% to 9%. Of women between the ages of 35 and 39, 25% experience infertility.

Getting pregnant after the age of 40 is possible without fertility treatment, but it's more likely that you will have a harder time conceiving once you reach this age.

After the age of 45, becoming pregnant without the use of fertility treatments is extremely unlikely.

Fertility Treatments After 40

Research has shown that assisted reproductive technology (ART) is less effective after age 40, and the rate continues to fall as you get older. For example, intrauterine insemination (IUI) success rates can be as low as 5% for women in their 40s.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has slightly better success rates for older people—about 15% per cycle. Still, this rate is not as good as it is for younger people.

The percentage of live births per IVF cycle for women over 40 is only 5.8%.

Egg donation may offer the best chance for someone who wants to get pregnant after the age of 40. In this process, a person can become pregnant using a donated egg (often from a young, healthy donor) that has been inseminated with the sperm of their partner or a donor.

The success rates for IVF using a donor egg can be upwards of 35% in cases of diminished ovarian reserve (which happens naturally with age). While the success rates are encouraging, using an egg donor means that the person who becomes pregnant won't have a genetic connection to their child.

The decision to use an egg donor can be difficult to make. Some people will consider the option and decide it's not the right choice for them.

The process can also be costly. The price tag may prevent some people from using egg donation services to become pregnant.

Pregnancy After 40

If you are over the age of 40 and want to get pregnant, there is more to consider than conception. If you are over the age of 35, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery all have unique challenges and risks.

Why Age 35?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the risk of pregnancy and birth complications increases with age.

However, the decision to use the age of 35 as the cutoff for what is considered an "older" or high-risk pregnancy originally had little to do with age. Medical professionals knew that the risk of Down syndrome increased with maternal age and began offering a new test called amniocentesis to women who became pregnant at or after the age of 35.

The age was somewhat arbitrarily chosen, and the designation of a "high-risk" pregnancy had more to do with the risks associated with amniocentesis. Today, the procedure is much safer, and there are many other factors besides age that determine whether pregnancy in an older person is considered high-risk.

Becoming pregnant after the age of 35 can increase your risk for:

  • Cesarean delivery (C-section)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Preeclampsia
  • Premature labor and birth

Research has shown that it's not only maternal age that matters—paternal age can also play a role. Studies have shown that if either parent is older than age 40 when a child is conceived, the risk for congenital conditions, neurocognitive disorders, and even the incidence of childhood cancers can be higher.

Risk of Miscarriage After 40

About 34% of pregnancies in women who are between the ages of 40 and 44 end in miscarriage. For women over the age of 45, the rate of miscarriage is 53%. Keep in mind that while it is true that over a quarter of pregnancies in women in their early 40s end in miscarriage, the majority do not.

Benefits of Having a Baby After 40

While having a child when you're older comes with challenges, there are also some unique benefits to being a parent later in life.

Some possible benefits of having a baby after 40 include:

  • You might be more emotionally prepared. Being older does not always equate with maturity, but many people feel more emotionally settled by this point in their life. If you're in a supported, strong, emotional place, you'll be better prepared for the ups and downs of pregnancy, birth, and child-rearing.
  • You might have more financial stability. After several decades of working, saving, and investing, the cost of raising kids might not feel as overwhelming as it did when you were younger.
  • You might be more ready to focus on family. By midlife, you've probably checked off a lot of goals, from education and career to travel and forming lasting relationships with others. You may feel free to be more focused on building a family. You might have a home of your own or at least be settled into a community that you care about. If you have a partner, you're hopefully feeling secure and stable in your relationship and are excited about parenting with them.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Getting pregnant after 40 is possible without fertility treatment, but your chances of having trouble conceiving are higher. After the age of 45, it’s not likely that you'll be able to get pregnant with your own eggs.

If you're over 40 and wish to conceive, ACOG recommends that you see your gynecologist right away for an evaluation, which may include basic fertility testing. A simple blood test can check your hormone levels, and an antral follicle count ultrasound can assess your risk for infertility.

If you have any symptoms or risk factors for infertility, make sure you discuss them with your provider before you start trying to get pregnant. You can also ask them if there is anything you can do to increase your odds of conceiving.

10 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National public health action plan for the detection, prevention, and management of infertility.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ART success rates.

  3. Stanford Children’s Health. Risks of pregnancy over age 35.

  4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Having a baby after age 35: How aging affects fertility and pregnancy.

  5. Horsager-Boehrer R, UT Southwestern Medical Center. Pregnancy over age 35: A numbers game.

  6. Curtis GB, Schuler J. How your age affects pregnancy. In: Your Pregnancy After 35. Third edition. New York: Da Capo Lifelong Books; 2013:135-146.

  7. Ramasamy, R, Kohn J, Than, JK. Reproductive risks of advanced paternal ageContemporary Ob/Gyn. 2019:64(5).

  8. Magnus MC, Wilcox AJ, Morken NH, Weinberg CR, Håberg SE. Role of maternal age and pregnancy history in risk of miscarriage: prospective register based studyBMJ. 2019;364:l869. doi:10.1136/bmj.l869

  9. Gregory E. Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood. Hachette UK; 2012.

  10. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Evaluating infertility.

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.