What age is it too late to have a baby?

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Why are we not having babies in our 20’s?

There are many men and women that are waiting to get married and are focusing on their careers until they are sometime in their 30’s and even 40’s. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

If waiting to get married and start a family is not due to career reasons, maybe some of these people would prefer to enjoy their freedom while they are in their 20’s.

Additionally, sometimes people don’t find their perfect mates until later on in life which alone delays their plans for starting a family.

These people just became adults and are now free from being restricted due to parental rules. They want to go out and explore and enjoy life. They want to travel to different places and spend nights out on the town, and sleep in and just not be bogged down by responsibilities other than going to work, paying their bills, and cleaning and maintain their apartment or home.

If they are still in school while working, then that is their responsibility as well. In that case, they really don’t have the time to devote and care for dependents other than maybe some pets.

This is why many women in their 20’s end up taking that opportunity to either build their career, finish schooling, and just enjoy life and don’t end up looking to settle down and get married until they are in their 30’s.


Getting pregnant in your 30’s?

There are also these groups of women who were unsure about whether or not they wanted kids in their 20’s, and after seeing their friends have their own kids, then they end up catching a case of baby fever. Therefore, they want to look into settling down, and some even don’t wait for that and go to a sperm donor to have a baby, all before it is too late. But what is too late really?

What happens is that these women who have delayed having kids in their 20’s for whatever reason begin to panic once they are approaching 35 or even more so if they are over 35, approaching 40, and do want to have kids. However, when women approach these ages, their biological clocks begin to tick.

when women approaches 30 their biological clocks begin to tick

The fact of the matter is that the egg quality and quantity are abundant when women are in their late teens after they have developed several years after puberty was reached and the quality stays the same in their 20’s but begins to dwindle after 29 slightly.

Though women that are from 29 to 35 are still very likely to get pregnant quickly as long as their fertility is not an issue and they are also likely to carry a healthy pregnancy to term and have a healthy child.


Getting pregnant in your 40’s?

Women are aware it is still doable to get pregnant and even have a healthy pregnancy and baby over the age of 35, but once they hit 40, then the concern becomes bigger with a good reason. After 40 years of age, the fertility of a woman begins to decline rapidly.

Therefore, women that are over 40 years of age have a smaller chance of having a healthy pregnancy and carrying to term than women at 35 years of age. Let alone, it is more difficult for women of that age to conceive as well.

getting pregnant at 40

However, once past the age of 35 then the chances for all of that dwindles down even more, and after the age of 40, your chances are slimmer that you would end up conceiving and carrying to term (miscarriage rate is naturally high), or have a healthy child that is free of chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome. That is because at that point the egg quality becomes poor which makes miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities likely as well.

Conceiving will also be difficult because women over 35 are more likely to have anovulatory cycles, meaning that they don’t ovulate during each of their cycles. However, women who have conditions like PCOS that affects how often they ovulate or whether they do at all will experience that issue regardless of their age.


Getting pregnant in your 50’s?

Good news is that conceiving and having a healthy baby still can happen to women who are over 40 and even up to right before reaching menopause which means it is possible for some women to conceive even at 50!

In fact, women who get pregnant after the age of 35 are considered to be at an advanced maternal age, and even call it geriatric maternal age. Haha! Even though anyone who is 35 is not at all in the geriatric category because 35 is still a young age, but when it comes to pregnancy that is another story altogether.

Getting pregnant at 50 years old

Now you know that the risks of having a miscarriage, not conceiving or having a baby with birth defects like Down Syndrome increase after a woman turns 35 and increases even more after a woman turns 40. Additionally, as soon as a woman is menopausal, she is obviously not able to conceive at all since her egg supply has run out and the average age for menopause is 51.

However, from a physical point of view, as long as the woman is in good health no matter how old she is, she can have a baby. There have been many instances of women in their 50’s and 60’s and even 70’s carrying a healthy baby to term and not having any serious pregnancy complications.

For instance, Janet Jackson had a baby at 50, and so did Sophie B. Hawkins. Halle Berry had her son at 47 and Geena Davis delivered twins at 48, and Kelly Preston was the same age when she had her son. It is quite unlikely that they got pregnant with their own eggs at the ages that they were, but pregnancy was quite possible.

Janet Jackson pregnant at 50 years old

Celebs like these likely used donor eggs, or they froze their eggs from an earlier time in order to have their babies whenever they chose. Many women are going that route now because of the fact that they want to enjoy their lives in their 20’s and early 30’s and not have to worry about being too old to conceive. This way, they have their eggs frozen in their 20’s for the purpose of using them at a much older age when conceiving with aging eggs would be a concern.

In fact, many women today are aware that they can freeze their eggs in their 20’s so they can have a healthy baby whenever they choose to have kids, whether they are in their late 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s. In fact, egg freezing parties are becoming more of a common thing for women in their 20’s.

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Egg Freezing Parties

Egg freezing parties are becoming more and more common because of the fact that women who are in their 20’s know that they are at the best age in order to conceive since their eggs are fresh and abundant. However, many of these women are either in school, just starting their careers, focusing on enjoying their lives, traveling and many haven’t even found the right mate.

Either way, even though they are at their prime in regards to their fertility, having a baby while they are not clearly ready to take on such a responsibility is not doable at that time.

Egg freezing procedure

Therefore, what these women do is have their eggs frozen so they can be used at a later time when they have found their mate, and they have lived their lives, had their careers established and are ready to become parents- without the pressure of being “too old” to start a family.

Therefore, these women who attend these egg freezing parties are chit-chatting about postponing motherhood while they are enjoying their wine and enjoying other snacks, and they are of course all dressed up. Egg freezing parties are a big event because celebrating their future kids and giving them the best chance to be born healthy is certainly a big deal.

However, there are drawbacks of egg freezing like there is with anything else in life. The cost of egg freezing alone is anywhere from $10,000 and $15,000 for the procedure as well as for the medications.

These women have to go on harsh fertility drugs in order to stimulate their ovaries so they can release many eggs at once. They will also have to be monitored at the fertility clinic daily through bloodwork and ultrasound so their eggs are monitored to see how close they are for retrieval.

Once retrieval time approaches, then they need to be sedated so their eggs are extracted with a catheter and goes through the cervix. Then they will be dealing with some pain and discomfort, and are given antibiotics to prevent infections after the procedure.

Woman's egg percentage as she age

Additionally, there is also no guarantee that the eggs would survive thawing once these women are ready to start a family. But chances are there will be a few that will survive and then there is an extra hefty cost whenever the transfer of the fertilized embryo is involved.

Not all employers cover egg freezing either so this procedure will not likely be covered by insurance. However, some Silicon Valley employers like Apple and Facebook do cover egg freezing for their workers. Eventually, if the practice becomes more widespread, more employers will likely catch on.

However, if older women who are still somewhat fertile but are at an advanced maternal age either missed this opportunity which many have since egg freezing is new can still increase their chances of having a healthy baby even with the eggs they have. The procedure would also be expensive but it is better than taking a gamble on their own. The procedure for this is preimplantation genetic screening or PGS.


Preimplantation Genetic Screening

Preimplantation genetic screening involves testing embryos by taking a biopsy to see if they are developing normally and their chromosomal distribution is normal since that is a huge risk for older mothers.

Women who are undergoing this procedure go through the same process that women go through who are having their eggs frozen or who are undergoing in vitro for different reasons.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening

Once the eggs are retrieved and fertilized with the sperm, then they will be frozen and monitored and then by day 3 or day 5 they biopsy the embryo and use the healthy embryos to transfer back and discard the embryos that are not developing normally which would have ended in a miscarriage otherwise.

Some clinics will transfer more than one embryo to women who are over 35 in order to increase the chances of at least once implanting. However, many times two implant successfully and then the pregnancy becomes a twin pregnancy, and these women end up with twins.

Since there are these options, then if women wait to have their kids over the age of 35 or even older, it can be done with some planning ahead and with the awareness that there is still no guarantee that pregnancy will happen. Additionally, these procedures are very expensive and they will have to come up with ways to cover the costs.


Donor Eggs

Some women are not too concerned about having their own biological children and have donor eggs or donor embryos if the father doesn’t care either and can get pregnant this way. The procedure is still costly since it is also a form of in vitro.

Some women who are already over 35 and have just settled down to get married will either take a gamble and try to conceive on their own or may be willing to dip into their savings or take out a loan and go down the PGS or donor egg/embryo route if they are afraid to do that. Sometimes they will set up GoFundMe campaigns if they choose to go this route and hope to receive financial help from their friends to help cover some of the costs.


Bottom Line

Either way, women that are of any age can technically carry a baby. However, getting pregnant as you approach 40, the likelihood of being able to conceive on your own with your own eggs in a timely fashion, becomes less, and the chances of that happening dwindle as they age.

But you can get pregnant up to your early 40’s with your own eggs, and with a donor or frozen egg, you can conceivably carry a baby to term up into your early 50’s.

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Monica Scott, BS, RN
Monica Scott, BS, RN | ConceiveEasy
Ms. Scott joined ConceiveEasy after working in prenatal obstetrical care for two years in a private practice before being promoted to Director of Nursing. She has a strong interest in women's health with an emphasis on promoting fertility awareness.