Don’t expect to get pregnant in your 40s

Women in their 40s who are still trying to figure out whether to have children are not going to like this post, but they need to know the facts.

A reader sent me a comment today that fit right in with a recent news story I was planning to share. She’s 42 and has a child from a marriage that went sour. Now she’s dating a 28-year-old man she calls her soul mate. At first he said he didn’t want children, but now he does, and she’s stewing over whether or not to have a child for him. Read the whole comment here.
The thing is, she’s not likely to get pregnant at 42, even if she decides she is willing. Check out this article at cnn.com. “The‘Big Lie’ in putting off pregnancy” makes it clear that while today’s 40-year-olds may be as youthful as yesteryear’s 25-year-olds, their eggs are old-school. A lot of the reason more than twice as many women age 40-44 are childless as in 1976 is that they’re delaying parenthood while they build their careers and enjoy the unfettered life. Meanwhile their eggs are going stale. By the time they think about having children, it’s too late.
The article notes that a woman in her 20s has a 20-25 percent chance of conceiving naturally per menstrual cycle. In her early 30s, the chances are 15 percent. After 35, it goes down to 10 percent. After 40, the number falls to 5 percent, and after 45, it’s only 1 per cent. It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s the way it is.
Well, you can just go to the doctor and start fertility treatments, you say. Unfortunately, most of the women who go that route do not successfully conceive. They spend thousands of dollars, experience lots of disappointment and sometimes several miscarriages before they give up. Sure, we hear about celebrities and others having babies in their 40s, but for most of us that’s not going to happen.
Last night, I lay in bed running the numbers. During my first marriage, I was in my 20s, but my husband wasn’t ready for children. When I married Fred, I was 33. I had time, but not much. Scary.
A lot of readers who comment here are in their late 30s or early 40s, still trying to work out the baby thing with their mates. I hate to put more pressure on you, but there’s no time to waste. Men can wait, but women can’t. In your discussions, show them the numbers. Maybe they’ll get the point.