Trying to Conceive After 40: What You Need to Know

I am 41-years-old and have been trying to conceive. I take prenatal vitamins, eat well and exercise. Is there anything special that I should be aware of?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

It sounds like you are doing everything right. Decline in fertility is your biggest enemy at this age.

Research published in the June 2002 jounal of Human Reproduction showed that a woman's fertility can begin to decline much earlier than most of us had believed -- as early as her late 20s.

Women in their 40s often need assistance from a reproductive specialist to become pregnant, either inducing ovulation or combining this with in-vitro fertilization. If you have not already done so, I would visit a physician specializing in infertility. Time is critical and each cycle that goes by is important.

Older men also contribute to the declining fertility rates. In the same study mentioned above, it was found that male fertility also begins to decline around the age of 35.

I don't mean to be the harbinger of bad news, but in response to your inquiry about other things to be aware of, older women have a higher risk of many of the complications of pregnancy, such as hypertensive disease, preterm labor, miscarriage and intrauterine fetal death.

There are many books written on this topic. Eight books that I highly recommend are:

Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Talk Miramax Books, 2002

Birth Over 35 by Sheila Kitzinger, Penguin Books: 1995

Getting Pregnant When You Thought You Couldn't by Helane S., Ph.D. Rosenberg, Yakov M., Ph.D. Epstein, Warner Books, 2001

Getting Pregnant by Melvin Frisch, Body Press: 1987

The Infertility Bookby Carla Harkness, Volcano Press: 1987

The Couple's Guide to Fertilityby Gary Berger, Main Street Books: 1995

How to be a Successful Fertility Patientby Peggy Robin, W. Morrow: 1993

Last-Chance Children by Monica Morris, NY: Columbia University Press: 1988

Source: Human Reproduction 2002 Vol 17 No 6 1299-1403

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