Are you trying to get pregnant and you’re over 35 – or even over 40? It can be so discouraging when you keep reading or hearing horror stories and statistics about trying to conceive at this age. Your doctor might have even shared some of these statistics and stories with you. Being lumped into that dreaded “advanced maternal age” category feels awful, even insulting.
That’s why I wrote this blog post -to dispel all these myths and give you the facts!
It’s also why I created my Finding Your Fertility Over 35 group coaching program. You CAN do this at this age, you just need the right support. Finding Your Fertility gives you the support you need to keep going in your over-35 conception journey.
As you know, I did successfully conceive my first child over the age of 40, after just a year of trying and without doing IVF, so my son and I are both living proof that a lot of what you hear are myths.
I didn’t even begin trying to have a baby until I was almost 42. I had a marathon year full of high highs and low lows – two miscarriages, a severe diminished ovarian reserve diagnosis, being told I had a less than 2% chance of conceiving and that I needed to do donor eggs – but I did it. I overcame the odds and successfully conceived my son a month before my 43rd birthday – almost to the day. And he was born a few months before I turned 44.
What is advanced maternal age?
A little bit of review here: the term advanced maternal age describes a woman over the age of 35 who is trying to conceive. Fertility does age along with the rest of us, so the commonly held belief is that fertility declines as we age. Age 35 is sort of regarded as a magical tipping point, when we go from being more fertile and more able to conceive easily, to all of a sudden not being fertile and not being able to conceive easily. So advanced maternal age is someone who is trying to conceive over the age of 35.
For a woman over 35, infertility is defined as not being able to successfully conceive in six-month period. So if you’ve been trying for over six months and you’re over 35 it’s recommended that you seek help. At that point you’re officially considered of advanced maternal age.
Myth #1: Fertility takes a nosedive when you hit 35
Fertility does decline as we age. We know that we are born with all the eggs we’ll ever have, and our egg supply declines as we get older. So it’s natural to expect that a woman who is a little older is going to have a little more trouble conceiving than a woman who is younger.
The reality is while our fertility declines with age, it doesn’t dive off a cliff. You’re not perfectly fertile when you’re 34 years old and 364 days, and then the next day you wake up and you’re 35 and all of a sudden you’re not fertile any longer.
A recent study showed that 82% of women who were between the ages of 35 and 39 who were regularly having intercourse at least twice a week, conceived within a year, as compared with 86% of women who were between the ages of 27 and 34.
So there’s a decline there, but it’s not this like steep like diving off a cliff as the myth suggests.
Myth #2: Low AMH is a death sentence
Reproductive endocrinologists test AMH, or anti-Müllerian hormone, to measure ovarian reserve (how many eggs you have left). We do see lower AMH levels in older women and doctors do tend to advise their patients with lower AMH levels to let go of the idea of conceiving with their own eggs.
Studies have shown that low AMH does not mean you will not get pregnant with your own eggs. What low AMH does suggest is that you might not be the best candidate for IVF using your own eggs. The goal of ovarian stimulation in IVF is to harvest lots of eggs, and with low AMH you might not respond well to the because you may not have large numbers of eggs to start with.
However, low AMH doesn’t say anything about your ability to conceive naturally. It only says that your egg supply may be low. Remember, you don’t need a stockpile of eggs to conceive, you just need one. And your ability to conceive naturally is independent of egg supply, as long as you’re still ovulating regularly.
Finding Your Fertility gives you the tools to check your body to see if it’s still operating the way it should for you to conceive.
Myth #3. If and when you do conceive, you’ll have a dangerous pregnancy
The general thinking is that older women have high risk pregnancies, greater risk for complications and pregnancy loss.
So much around having a healthy pregnancy and delivery is depending upon the health of the individual person. How you take care of yourself, how well you’re eating, sleeping, how you’re moving your body, whether or not you smoke, the vitamins you’re taking – these are just a few of so many variables that contribute to the health of a person, a pregnancy and a delivery.
When you get pregnant, focus on being the healthiest you you can be, rather than the number that’s your chronological age. In Finding Your Fertility, you’ll get lots of tools for maximizing your health and prioritizing self-care.
Myth #4: You were selfish to wait.
There are so many reasons why people wait to have children. Every person’s circumstances are unique and different. Some women don’t even meet the right person until they’re older. To say that we all waited too long to try to have children because we were too focused (selfishly, as it’s implied) on our careers is a gross overgeneralization.
To weather a fertility journey, you need the right mindset. Finding Your Fertility gives you the tools to develop that mindset, and the support you need when your mindset starts to crumble.
Myth #5: If you’re older you’re not meant to be a mom.
There goes that mindset again! The facts are simple: we see women all over the world getting pregnant, having healthy pregnancies, delivering healthy babies, raising happy children, creating beautiful families at all ages. In their 20s, in their 30s, in their 40s and even in their 50s.
We carry the desire to be a mom in our heart long before we ever carry a child in our uterus. If you believe in your heart that you’ll be a mom, you will be a mom. You will find a way to create and manifest that desire in your life.
There are so many layers to the over-35 conception journey. In Finding Your Fertility Over 35, we get into it all, and give you the tools you need to approach your journey with your sanity intact.
My suggestion is to focus more on becoming the healthiest you you can be, more than on the probabilities and statistics. You are not a statistic.
Focus on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Use this time to focus on preparing, not just to get pregnant but to be a mother. Think about what kind of mom you want to be, and what kind of values you want to give to your future baby. Becoming a mother is a huge transformation in your life. This is a great time to get ready.