No matter how sophisticated Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART) becomes these days, fertility in your 40s and 50s is going to remain different than it was in your 20s.
When you’re older the odds stack up against you in more ways than you can imagine and even if you can slow down your aging process, you cannot reverse time.
It is not out of place to hear predictions that you are highly unlikely to get pregnant with your own eggs and that donor egg IVF is your best chance of having a baby.
All this is normal because conventional wisdom drives any doctor’s analysis. You’ve most likely heard that you were born with all the eggs that you will ever have and that all through the 30 or so years of having periods, as well as the natural ageing process, your fertility begins to decline in your early 30s, and takes a big dive after age 35.
You probably know already that by the time you’re over 40, your fertility has dropped steeply.
By the time you hit menopause, you may not have run out of eggs but the supply is scant and you’re no longer ovulating.
This is all true. Your test results will bear testimony to this. At this age of over 40, your Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) will be already on the high indicating that your ovaries have to work harder to stimulate follicle growth (and egg maturation) than the ovaries of a younger woman.
Your Anti-Mullerian Hormone, which measures ovarian reserve, would be very low and your case may be classified as “undetectable” egg supply. Your Antral Follicle Count, which counts resting follicles in the first few days of the cycle and indicates how many follicles may have the potential to grow that cycle, would be fewer than normal.
All this information would tell your doctor to prescribe a grim prognosis.
The reality, though, is that you are about so much more than your numbers. If it were just about the numbers, all the women with strong numbers would have their babies, and the women like you with sub-optimal numbers wouldn’t. We know this is not the case.
Fertility does decline with age. Fact. Luckily, older women like you can have some tools in your arsenal to help you get pregnant and have a baby, if that’s what you want.
When you’re trying to get pregnant at the so-called “advanced age”, do not panic or lose hope. True, you are getting old but you are not out of time. While age is correlated with fertility, it’s not like the minute you turn 40, or 35, or another age, you all of a sudden aren’t able to get pregnant. Fertility is more of a continuum.
Time may be of the essence, and you may need to act quickly, but you do have time to do what you need to do. Fertility in your 40s and 50s is certainly going to look different than it did in your 20s and 30s.
You are not the same woman, physically, emotionally or spiritually than you were in your 20s. Like in other things, your fertility has changed too. For instance, it’s common as you age to produce less cervical fluid than when we’re younger. Cervical fluid is important when trying to get pregnant, especially when trying naturally, so it’s important to be aware of that.
In any area related to your fertility, you need to be able to do your research and find ways to mitigate the situation to account for your age. This is true regardless of your age, but especially if you’re 45 and over and trying to conceive.
The tools in your arsenal are even more important when you’re older. On your fertility journey, you’ve probably heard that that things like nutrition, exercise and sleep are important.
Knowing how to track your fertility signs and your menstrual cycles including stress reduction are crucial if you are on a fertility journey, regardless of your age and whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or through treatment.
Being the healthiest you can be will help you achieve optimal fertility. This is especially crucial for you if you’re at an advanced age.
If you’re trying naturally, it’s important to keep in mind that generally speaking, middle-aged couples tend to have intercourse with less frequency than younger couples. In trying to conceive, you don’t have to have intercourse all the time, but you do need to have it at the right time, and knowing your cycles will help you pinpoint when that time is.
Managing your stress will help you endure the trials and tribulations of fertility treatment, and cultivating a mind-body connection will help you silence the negative self-talk that tells you you’re too old or that your time has passed.
The fertility journey can really mess with your physical body and your mind, and it’s important to have the right tools to fight back.
Let’s us look at a scenario in which your doctor has told you that you are not likely to get pregnant with your own eggs and that donor egg IVF is your best option, don’t disbelieve your doctor.
Don’t lose hope even if you know your numbers and that the situation isn’t favorable.
You should know by now that donor egg IVF is an option for you as the right path to become a mother.
Always keep in mind the goal to get pregnant, but do not lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is not necessarily to be pregnant but to be a mother.
Motherhood comes in many ways – donor egg, sperm or embryo; surrogacy; adoption. As you get older, it’s increasingly important to keep all of those options in mind if your own natural fertility is compromised.
It’s a process to work through your feelings and emotions around the other avenues to motherhood, and it may take some time to do that. But it may become important to do so if you need to let go of the idea of a traditional pregnancy. There are now so many options for parenthood, it is a journey, but keep in mind the ultimate goal.
As much as you may be acutely aware of the challenges and setbacks every day of your age that tend to weigh on you, do not give up on your goal. You will be a mother.
While there’s so much that’s out of your control, there’s still so much you can control. How you eat, what you eat, how you move your body and much more.