Do You Have Enough Good Eggs to Get Pregnant over 40?

Trying to get pregnant over 40 is generally not easy. I know because I tried for years to have a baby without success. While there are many factors which impact conception, one of the first concerns for women over 40 is if they have enough healthy eggs to get pregnant. Research has shown that women carry a reserve of eggs throughout their lives and that reserve diminishes over time. There are several tests to assist in pregnancy over 40 which help to determine ovarian reserve including antral follicle testing, the clomid challenge and the AMH test which is relatively new.

The antral follicle test uses vaginal ultrasound to count and measure the small follicles, antral follicles, on the ovary. The higher the number of antral follicles, the better ovarian reserve and better odds for conception.
The AMH Test , anti-mullerian hormone test, measures the levels of AMH in a woman’s blood. Since this hormone remains relatively constant over the menstrual cycle, it can be tested at any point in the month. Women with higher AMH levels tend to have a better ovarian reserve and a better chance at conception.

When I decided to try to conceive one last time at age 44, my reproductive endocrinologist began by ordering the clomid challenge test. For the test, I took clomid, a fertility drug used to induce ovulation, for 5 days. Generally speaking, the procedure works like this:
• On Day 3 of your menstrual cycle, a blood test is given to measure your FSH, LH, and estradiol levels.
• On Day 5 of your cycle, you begin to take a 5-day supply of clomiphene citrate, 100 mg of clomiphene each day for five days.
• On Day 10, you will have another blood draw to check FSH, LH, and estradiol levels again.

Normal results include low FSH values on both Day 3 and Day 10, and low estradiol values on Day 3. Results are abnormal if your FSH values are elevated. Your doctor may decide to re-test if your results are abnormal.

My results were normal but that is a fraction of the total conception story and half of the ovarian reserve story. Ovarian reserve consists not only of the quantity of eggs but also the quality of eggs. Research tells us that while tests like the clomid challenge check for the quantity of eggs, the quality of eggs is generally determined better by age. This is an unfortunate fact for those of us over 35.
According to Dr. James Toner in his paper “Ovarian Reserve, Female Age and the Chance for Successful Pregnancy”, once women reach their mid thirties, specifically 37, their egg quantity begins to diminish at a faster rate. Tonor also reports that even if egg quantity is good, chances of a viable pregnancy drop due to the diminishing quality of eggs as women age.

Based on the research, it is clear that the averages do not look promising for women over age 35 trying to have a baby. There is, however, other information to consider. Let’s take a look at the bell curve. Basically, about 2/3 of the cases for a given situation fall in the fat part of the curve meaning that averages generally apply to most people. However, there are still one third of the people who fall outside of the fat part of the bell curve and averages do not generally apply to them. As you look at your individual situation, it is your lab work, anatomy and physiology that matter. I am a classic example of defying the odds. My ovarian reserve quantity was good but that wasn’t what was preventing me from conceiving a child. It took many more tests to determine that a badly placed uterine tumor was most likely preventing implantation. At age 44, the research showed that an average woman in my situation had only a 3% chance of having a healthy baby. Yet, I was able to conceive in two of 4 IUI treatments and gave birth to a healthy little girl 9 months ago at the age of 45.

There are many components to pregnancy over 40 including ovarian reserve. There are also many medical interventions to boost the odds of conception. Medical research provides us with excellent information about infertility and age including work on ovarian reserve. While the research tells us that the odds of getting pregnant in late 30’s and 40’s diminishes, one needs to remember that each woman is unique and she needs to work with her doctor to explore all options in her quest for pregnancy.

9 thoughts on “Do You Have Enough Good Eggs to Get Pregnant over 40?”

    1. My doctor told me initially that I had about a 3% chance of conceiving a healthy baby at my age – age 43 about to turn 44. I wasn’t convinced that was true so I went forward with the process and delivered a healthy baby girl a little over a year later. I did lose the first baby to miscarriage but quickly got pregnant again with my healthy baby girl.

  1. Some women experience increased trips to the bathroom when others boom feelings of bloating or cramping using the purpose of resembles irritation from menstruation. These are all collective secret language of beforehand pregnancy, but are not ultimate solitary as tiredness or nausea or frequent urination and abdomen cramps can with no trouble be associated using a come to of other wellbeing concerns.

  2. Hi, I have a 21 yr old, and a 2 1/2 yr old. I was pregnant and lost one that would of been due this last December. So they would of been 2 yrs exactly apart, then I accidentally (but with our OB’s permission) got pregnant after my first period. I had to have a DNC with fetus that was due in Dec. I had what is called a “molar pregnancy” where 2 sperm fertilize the same egg……. and a mass grows instead of a baby. If not watched, it could lead to CANCER. I feel had we waited 4 full cycles, things may have been fine, but with this being just after 1 cycle, the uterus had not shed enough and then this happened. Now we are over a year out and are thinking again. I just turned 40, but this is very worrisome to me, obviously. Is this going to happen again? I got pregnant each time the first time we tried!!!! I am planning to get checked to see “where I am nearing menapause” Is this going to do anything for me? Are there any tests I can do to check my egg age? I look alot younger than most 40 yr olds, have been on prenatal and folic acid, our son is perfect. I was told it is only a 4% chance there could be a aprob with baby~~I will do all the testing possible due to the last 2 miscarriages. I truly feel had we listened to the Genetic Doctor and fully understood the importance to wait 4 FULL cylces, vs the general OB that said try after 1 cycle is fine….things could of been differently. So, 1) what is my chance of increased prob with baby now at 40 vs 37 1/2 old….2) Is there any testing I can do to check where I am at?? Most insurances don’t cover alot of testing….. I got pregnant all times normally, with nothing. It is exhausting with a 2 yr old now, but so rewarding, I would love another and to give him a close aged sibling. I’m just up in the air and need some real advice…Thanks!!

  3. I have to ask~~I feel like all the research is clear back from the 1970’s. Our world now is doing their careers, homes, then children after 40, but where are the real stats of this? It would be so nice to see the truth….thanks for anyone’s impute!! 40 and Thinking about another!!!

    1. I had my first baby at 30 and my last baby at 41 (that was number 7, all normal and healthy…worste health issue is cavities:)). I am now prego with number 8 at 43 years old. It took me about 2 months longer to get prego this time. Now I am 7.5 weeks. I am nervouse after reading all the miscarriage info and the downs info. I have always felt that those statistics didn’t fit for me, because of all my normal pregnancies and babies. I would love to find more info for specific cases like mine. But yes, I am so happy I did it! Prego at 40 is a good thing if you have it in your heart!! Good luck!

      1. I m so glad to read yourr article ,I m compeleatly under schock about evreything I m reading here,I will turn 43 next month I have 2 beautiful healthy children 15 and 10 years old I finally found a love of my life he is 46 has 2 children himself we would dream to have a child together.I did nt question any of these possibilities untill I begin to do some reserches on the internet today .I was thinking to get to try to concieving a child and we both decided to do the next step ,but after all I m reading here it looks like a risk for everyone and something actually really frightening .Why I decided replay to YOUR comment ,because you see life like me and I still feel that all thes things dosent apply to me ,but when it comes to bring an ill child to the world and our dream turn into nightmare I dont know what should I believe anymore ! I m left with no words ,like all my dreams flew away !!!I dont know what to do ????

  4. Hi, I’m 41 and hubby 38 is not yet ready to have a baby. I’m thinking of freezing my eggs now when my eggs are still ok or wait 2-3 more years if he’s ready & just take the chance of conceiving naturally with him. If i cant conceive naturally, thats the time i would think of IVF at age 44 or 45. My FSH, estradiol and AMH are all normal and the doctor said I still have very good ovarian reserve at my age but I’m also aware of its rapid decline as I age yet I’m inspired by women who did get pregnant over 40. Any input would be much appreciated.

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