Becoming a mother at the age of 40 is not easily possible naturally, but is not impossible either. A woman still has fair chances of bearing a child after she’s crossed 40 years. But the chances are much higher if she uses donor eggs from someone younger during her fertility treatment.

Becoming a mother at the age of 40 or later can have boundaries and there might be complications which are likely to hinder the chances of a successful conception and a safe pregnancy. This can be very tough and disheartening for the woman. According to researchers, the chances of getting pregnant in the late 30s or early 40s get lower by 42% compared to women aged late 20s or early 30s. When a woman reaches the age of 36 or 37, her chances of becoming a mother get lower by 9 percent. If we consider a gradual decline in the chances of pregnancy as a woman ages, her chances of getting pregnant is extremely low by the time she reaches her 40s. Studies show that 95% of the remaining eggs in a woman of 40s might carry genetic abnormalities.


Even if a woman seems to be youthful in her 40 something, the sad reality is that becoming a mother may not be as easy as it seems. But medical science has made that possible. All thanks to fertility treatments like IVF.


Basics about IVF success with age


There might be a lot of clinics claiming that a successful pregnancy with IVF after 40 is an affair. But that is not always the scenario. 

– Success rate of IVF for a 30 years old woman is 48 percent.

– Success rate of IVF for a 40 year old woman is 22 percent.

– Success rate of IVF for a 42 or 43 years old woman is 12%.

– Success rate of IVF for a 45 year old woman is 7%.

– Success rate of IVF for a 47 years old woman is 4%.


As a result of the lower effectiveness of IVF treatment after 40 or after the woman ages, many countries including India have imposed an age limit for fertility treatment like IVF. The guidelines of the Ministry of Health, Govt of India, 2005 have no recommendation on the upper age limit for IVF treatment using donated eggs or embryos. However, the 2017 ICMR draft bill for assisted reproductive technology (ART) suggests an upper age limit of 45 for women and 50 for men.

Natural pregnancy after 40


Getting pregnant naturally after 40 is not as easy as getting pregnant at the age of 25 or 30. It is a challenging task because with age, the egg count and the quality starts declining. As a woman approaches her menopause, the number of eggs naturally decline to an extent where conceiving a child is highly unlikely.


If the quantity and quality of eggs is poor and the woman has been unsuccessful in getting pregnant for anyone in her 40s, becoming a mother is still possible. In this case, the woman and the couple can depend on donor eggs. 


Donor eggs are like traditional IVF but instead of using the woman’s own eggs, high quality fertile eggs from that of a younger woman are used in the process. This cuts down the odds of conception


Ovarian reserve for IVF


Ovarian reserve is a medical term which is used to describe the ability of the ovaries to produce healthy egg cells which can fertilize and result in a successful pregnancy. In simple words, ovarian reserve means the production or supply of eggs. As a woman ages, her ovarian reserve declines. As astonishing it may sound, the ovarian reserve of a woman is born. According to studies, a 6 month female fetus bears the maximum ovarian reserve in her lifetime. As she is born and starts growing, it is on the decline.


At birth, there are approximately 1 million eggs in a  woman; and by the time of puberty, only about 300,000 remain. A healthy 25 year old has approximately 100,000 eggs in her ovarian reserve. By the age of 40, most women have 5,000 eggs in her reserve. If a woman has health issues like endometriosis, PCOD or PCOS, pelvic infection, any autoimmune disorders, tubal disease or has the habit of smoking, this number can further get reduced. 


Egg quality after 40


Whole egg numbers can be evaluated, there is actually no parameter to evaluate the quality of the eggs besides a successful fertilization. There are no blood tests or sonograms which can determine the quality of the eggs or mif the eggs are normal or not. But considering medical evidence, it is believed that the older you are, the higher your chances of releasing genetically abnormal eggs. A woman can have genetically abnormal eggs even in her 20s, but the ratio of normal to abnormal eggs in a woman in her 40s drastically flip-flops. More than half of the eggs in a woman in her 40s will be abnormal.


Can egg quality affect fertility?


Yes, the quality of the eggs is directly related to fertility. If the ovulated eggs are not healthy or carry any genetical abnormalities, it will fail to fertilise or fail to implant which might lead to miscarriage. If you are not being able to conceive even after trying for more than 6 months, it is time for you to consult an infertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist. Many women think that fertility treatment is a solution for women of all age groups but the truth is that IVF treatment is less successful for aged women.


Uterine quality after 40 


Similar to the quality of eggs, uterine quality is also important. A healthy uterus is extremely necessary to support the fetus and nourish its growth during the course of the pregnancy. A well developed uterine lining can support a successful implantation. But here is the good news. Unlike the quality of the eggs, there is no decline in the quality of the uterine lining in the woman; the uterine environment remains good and healthy for a longer age. There is no connection between your aging uterine lining and the implantation. When it comes to getting pregnant with IVF after 40 years, uterine lining plays a major role, but fortunately, there is no down side here.


Tips for a successful IVF pregnancy after 40


There’s no way you can prevent eggs from aging. But there are ways to improve the quality of your eggs, reduce stress and inflammation, improve your health as per childbearing needs and have a successful pregnancy.


  1. Take supplements that can enhance your egg quality.
  2. Eat a high fiber and low carb diet to improve your hormonal functioning.
  3. Do not indulge in high intensity workouts if you are trying to get pregnant. Instead, opt for yoga, meditation, stretching or walking.
  4. If you are diagnosed with PCOD or PCOS, be extra careful with your diet and lifestyle. Take medicines to balance your hormones. 
  5. You can freeze your eggs for the future. If you are in your 30s, you can freeze your eggs and use them in your 40s. 


Bottom line on getting pregnant with IVF after 40


There is no denying that getting pregnant naturally or with fertility treatment like IVF is difficult once the woman reaches her 40s. But if you are desperate enough to bear a child of your own,  the first step is to consult with an infertility specialist. Evaluate the possibilities and the odds that might fall in your way.


You can consult with some of the best infertility specialists at Pristyn Care and make well informed parenting decisions and take the next step forward with proper guidance and professional help.