If you’re hoping to get pregnant at some point, a question on your mind may be, “how old is too old to have a baby?”
It’s a question I get all of the time, and so I want to shed some light on factors to consider when it comes to age and your fertility.
First things, first:
Get Your TUSHY Checked
Regardless of your age, it is smart to get your fertility levels checked. We now live in a world where tests that can help paint a picture of your fertility levels and diagnosis are both more accessible and affordable. It’s for that reason that I recommend to anyone that thinks they may want a family someday to get their TUSHY checked.
And what does this have to do with your age and determining if you’re too old to get pregnant? How do you know if your eggs are too old?
FSH: is a hormone secreted by your brain
Estradiol: (estrogen) is a hormone which is secreted by your ovaries
When we get these levels checked we do so around cycle day number 3 and they give us an idea of how hard your brain is working to talk to your ovaries.
AMH: anti-mullerian hormone is secreted by cells that surround the eggs. The more eggs you have, the higher the AMH. When you get older AMH lowers until it’s zero.
Sometimes I refer to AMH as the, “Always Meandering Hormone” as fluctuations in levels are normal.
I like to do an ultrasound of the ovaries to determine the AFC or antral follicle count.
A combination of knowing your age, hormone levels and follicle count will help me determine your fertility status.
And keep in mind that low (fertility levels) doesn’t mean no. If you are over the age of 40 then we know that each egg has no more than a 10% chance of being genetically normal.
Have a threshold, 6 months or so of trying, and then determine what to do next.
When it comes to seeing me, I want to take care of people right away and help them reach their goals.
Every negative test is one step closer to a positive. Being a positive fertility provider is really important to me. I believe in everyone’s fertility.
Chronological Age vs Biological Age:
Fertility isn’t skin deep. Your eggs don’t know how great you’ve taken care of your skin.
If a woman that’s 47 comes to me and wants to do IVF using her own eggs, I will always try for that patient. However, we will go into it with the expectation that it is unlikely to work given the her age.
Oftentimes for women over 40 we have to look to creative family building (donated eggs or embryos) for a baby, and that’s okay!
Here are some tips no matter how old you are for the best chance of a healthy pregnancy:
Being in great shape isn’t just good for baby’s health, but it’s also good for you and your recovery postpartum.
Eating healthy is important.
Eating leafy greens and a Mediterranean diet is shown to be very beneficial from a fertility standpoint.
The supplements I recommend to patients until they are done having kids:
Part of the H in the TUSHY method isn’t just testing fertility hormones, but also making sure your thyroid and vitamin D levels are healthy. If your vitamin D is low then I’ll add that to this list of supplements that I ask patients to take.
If you’re 45 or older and want to have a baby, I will empower you to give yourself the best chance of pregnancy. However, I will let my patients know it’s not risk-free. Things we look at are the following to make sure you won’t be at higher risk for complications.
No matter how healthy you are, your age alone may make your pregnancy higher risk. Having a specialist to work with that can guide you through this process is very important.
Menopause and Pregnancy
You just need a healthy uterus to have a baby. One day there will be men everywhere with a transplanted uterus having a baby (probably not). My point is that you need a uterus to have a healthy pregnancy. Working ovaries and regular menstrual cycles aren’t necessary to get the uterus ready for an embryo.
There’s also no such thing as a donor egg emergency. If you’re over a certain age and you still want to have hope that you can carry a pregnancy with your own eggs, that’s okay. Sometimes just having that hope and believing in your own fertility works.
But if you feel the pressure that you need to make a decision right away, know that you don’t need to.
My goal is to always help my patients create a family in the way they desire, but sometimes we need to be creative. This may involve using donated eggs, embryos, and sperm or using gestational carriers.
I hope that this inspires you to meet with a specialist to discuss your family goals and to avoid seeing your age as a limiting factor for you to be a parent.
I’m going to get on my soapbox for a moment and leave you with a few important fertility pearls of wisdom:
- Get Your Fertility Levels Checked: For any woman that’s 21 years or older who has a mother that has gone through early menopause I strongly recommend that you get your fertility levels checked soon.
- If you’re a woman that’s 25, I recommend getting your fertility levels checked regardless of family history of early menopause.
- If you’re a woman that’s 32 and you want a family within the next five years then I strongly encourage you to consider preserving your fertility by freezing eggs or embryos.
- If you’ve had a baby, at your postpartum visit, ask to get your fertility levels checked! Just because you were able to get pregnant with baby number one, does not mean that the next attempt will happen within the same timeframe.
- If a woman is 37 and just starting a family I strongly recommend fertility preservation like egg freezing or embryo freezing if she wants more than one child.
- Lastly, for everyone who starts birth control pills (especially at a young age), get your AMH checked before you start them and every year thereafter as you’re on them. Birth control pills can mask infertility as they artificially induce normal periods. The same goes for an IUD — understand your fertility before IUD placement. Get your levels checked before placement and learn about them after too.
As always please reach out if you have any questions or topic suggestions for future shows.
Send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also catch more of me and topics like this through the Egg Whisperer Show. The episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST. Subscribe to the podcast too!