Yes, it is possible to get pregnant naturally after age 40. Pregnancy may take longer to achieve at this age, and if a woman has already started skipping periods or has irregular cycles each month, her fertility may already be impaired. How can a woman over 40 maximize her chances of conceiving naturally? First, it helps to understand how ovulation occurs. Then, a woman can use several natural methods to identify when ovulation takes place.
Each month, a fertile woman's body releases an egg from her ovaries. To begin this process, on the first day of menstruation, a woman's body starts to secrete certain hormones. These hormones activate the development of follicles, containing immature eggs, in the ovaries. In one of these follicles, an egg will start to develop more rapidly than the others and will soon be released.
About a day before ovulation, the hormones estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, and the egg sets out from its follicle. This entire process, from menstruation until ovulation, takes anywhere from 10 to 21 days, averaging 14 days. If pregnancy does not occur right after ovulation, the egg disintegrates, and menstruation begins again within a couple of weeks.
Understanding how ovulation works can help a woman over 40 estimate the best time to have intercourse. Overall, if a woman in her early forties attempts to get pregnant with natural conception, she will have a five percent chance of conceiving each month. This is far less than the 20 percent chance of getting pregnant she had at age 30. To maximize her chances of getting pregnant, women over 40 should pay attention to several indicators of ovulation.
Temperature Spikes During Ovulation
One way to determine when ovulation occurs is to check the basal body temperature (BBT) on a daily basis. If a woman is dedicated to getting pregnant naturally after 40, BBT readings can be very helpful. How? When a woman's egg is released and luteinizing hormone surges, her BBT spikes. The BBT, which is usually lowest during the first part of a woman's cycle, spikes during ovulation and then stays high until menstruation begins. The BBT spike usually takes place about 10 to 14 days after menstruation begins.
How to Check the Basal Body Temperature
To get pregnant naturally after 40, begin by purchasing a basal thermometer. Each morning, before getting out of bed, take a temperature with the basal thermometer. Chart the temperature on a calendar each day and patterns will emerge. Once the temperature spikes, the egg has already been released, and ovulation has likely occurred. Once a woman knows the average day of her temperature spike each month, intercourse can be planned for that time. The most fertile days are several days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation itself.
Cervical Mucus Changes Before Ovulation
Changes in cervical secretions are another sign that ovulation is approaching. After menstrual bleeding ends, many women will notice that their cervix feels pretty dry to slightly wet for a week or two. As ovulation approaches, most women will notice that vaginal moisture increases. Several days before ovulation, thick, slippery cervical mucus starts to discharge from the vagina. The closer one gets to ovulation, the more wet and stretchy this cervical mucus becomes. By ovulation day the discharge often has the consistency of egg whites.
Women over 40 can take advantage of these changes. By examining the cervical mucus discharged from her vagina on a daily basis, she can estimate when ovulation will occur. The texture and wetness of the cervical mucus can be charted on the same calendar as the BBT, helping a woman estimate when to time intercourse to achieve pregnancy. Often after ovulation occurs, the mucus disappears within a day or two.
Likelihood of Pregnancy Occurring After 40
As of 2010 in the United States, the March of Dimes reports that 20 percent of women wait until after age 35 to have their first child. Wanting to conceive after age 40 has become common, yet almost one in three women between 40 and 44 are infertile. Trying to get pregnant after 40 can also be hampered by a rise in miscarriage rates. Between 40 and 44, one in three pregnancies end in miscarriage. After 45, more than half of pregnancies will be spontaneously aborted. To boost the chances of conceiving after 40, women can chart their BBT and cervical mucus in the hopes of getting pregnant naturally.