If you're trying to get pregnant and fear that menopause might affect your conceiving chances, try not to worry too much. Although fertility naturally declines after 35, women over 40 are one of the most common age groups that accidentally get pregnant. In fact, it's not unheard of for women as old as 50 to get pregnant naturally! During your 40s, your periods start becoming highly irregular as your body prepares itself for menopause (the final period). But you won't become entirely infertile until you have not had a period for at least one entire year.
Pregnancy during perimenopause
You're probably aware that a woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and that this supply of eggs diminishes drastically by the time she approaches the age of 40. Once this supply is completely exhausted, the woman is said to undergo menopause. However, exciting new research shows that women might continue to produce eggs after birth. This study, which can be found in the journal Nature, suggests that the ovaries might have a hidden reserve of eggs. If more research can confirm this discovery, it could be the most important finding regarding fertility in a very long time.
A similar discovery at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine offers hope to older women trying to conceive. Eighty-six women who were going through premature ovarian failure, or early menopause, participated in an egg donation program at the institute. During the course of the program, seven participants were able to ovulate successfully and three gave birth to healthy babies. The researchers suggest that it's possible for the ovary to regain some of its functions, as long as the ovaries were not damaged by chromosomal abnormalities or radiation therapy. So if these two conditions aren't a problem, you still stand a good chance of getting pregnant after 40.
How to increase your odds to conceive when you're 40
Just because your chances of getting pregnant naturally at 40 are good, it doesn't mean that you should let fate run its course. There are several things you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
*Eat to boost your fertility. Studies show that processed foods, trans-fats, and refined sugar are detrimental to fertility. Avoid these foods and consume more fruits, vegetables, full-fat dairy, and other nutrient-rich foods.
*Quit smoking and drinking for optimal conception health. The chemicals in cigarette smoke and excessive alcohol intake can impair your ovarian function. You must quit smoking if you are trying to conceive. Although some people trying to conceive think that the occasional cocktail is safe, your chances will improve if you give up drinking altogether.
*Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that lowers the risk of serious birth defects associated with a deficiency in this vitamin. The FDA recommends that any woman trying to conceive should load up on folic acid, especially if she is approaching menopause. Additionally, recent studies have indicated that taking folic acid can increase conception rates, and that a deficiency in folic acid is linked to infertility in both females and males.
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