In most developed countries, there has been a phenomenon of postponement of motherhood, such as becoming pregnant at 45 years of age. There are many factors, mainly economic, academic and social, for which women displace motherhood towards the last years of their reproductive age .
Currently, there are cases of women who have been able to become pregnant at 45 years of age or older . However, in most of them, it is not known if it was natural or not. In this article we examine the probability of getting pregnant at this age naturally.
Fertility in women
Fertility changes with age . In the case of women, the beginning of the reproductive life begins with ovulation and menstruation. This phase begins in adolescence, close to 14 years, although each female organism evolves at different rates.
But, in the case of women, just as reproductive life begins, it also ends. The low chance of becoming pregnant at age 45 has to do with this termination of the reproductive life. However, to understand the reasons for this, it is necessary to know what happens during the menstrual cycle.
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What happens during the menstrual cycle?
In the ovaries are the follicles, small spheres filled with fluid. Inside these follicles are the ovules . However, at the beginning of each menstrual cycle, the brain produces a hormone (follicle-stimulating hormone) that stimulates the growth of the follicles. When a follicle reaches maturity, it releases an egg .
An egg is ready to be fertilized by a sperm. If this happens, a pregnancy occurs. The cells are implanted in the endometrium, that is, in the lining of the uterus and will develop until a baby is formed.
However, in case the ovum is not fertilized, the endometrium is detached and the organism will discard it as a menstrual flow, restarting the cycle. Now, from the age of 16, each cycle has a regular duration of 26 to 35 days .
It can be said that, after 7 years, the most fertile stage of the woman begins in which the organism is in the best conditions to get pregnant. This period of fertility lasts until the late thirties or early forties .
However, little by little, fertility begins to decline. Menstrual periods are less frequent due to changes related to age. For what is this?
Limited ovarian reserve
Unlike men, women have a certain number of oocytes or follicles (precursors of the ovules). This amount is known as ovarian reserve and is one of the most important elements in terms of female fertility.
Since the birth of a girl, it has approximately one million oocytes. But when it reaches puberty, the reserve decreases to 400 thousand. Of these, the woman will only have 300 to 400 ovulations available to fertilize throughout her reproductive life.
The best reproductive age
The best reproductive age for a woman ranges between 20 years . However, as time passes and the woman ages, the ovarian reserve decreases. In this way, the fertile panorama becomes more complicated since it is an irreversible process.
A healthy 30-year-old woman has only a 20% chance of getting pregnant. However, according to the criteria of specialists , between 35 and 37 years, the reserve of oocytes begins to fall dramatically. In the case of a woman of 40 years, the probability of getting pregnant is reduced to less than 5% .
In other words, of 100 women only 5 will be able to conceive and the rest will have to try again. Therefore, the biological probabilities of becoming pregnant at age 45 are very low . In addition, the scenario gets even more complicated because menopause is approaching.
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The chances of getting pregnant at 45
One might think that fertility does not end until menopause arrives. However, the possibility of conceiving naturally ceases years before, close to 45 years . Even this condition decreases the chances of other fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization.
However, thanks to scientific advances, work continues to increase the chances of having children at an older age through assisted reproduction techniques (ART). For example, one study indicates that, currently, the probability of becoming pregnant at age 40 is 27.6%; at age 41, the percentage decreases by about 20%; and at 43 years old, it is reduced until it reaches 10% .
It is important to note that 43 years are recognized as the new age limit for conceiving by means of assisted reproduction techniques. However, at higher age, these treatments will have higher economic costs . That is, the chances of getting pregnant at 45 are very low.
Undoubtedly, as the woman advances in age, the chances of getting pregnant decrease , especially after 35 years. This includes the woman who wants to become pregnant at age 45. For that reason, it is important that women who plan to postpone motherhood do not underestimate the age factor.
Likewise, it is vital that they inform themselves about it, examine options and be realistic about the chances of success . This will help make the best possible decision regarding family planning.