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Seeking pregnancy after 50 is more than imagination

You may have heard about the ticking of the “biological clock,” and it is true because age can make a difference in terms of natural conception. But thanks to reproductive technologies when you’re in your 40s or even after you’ve hit the big 50, motherhood may still be a real option.

If you’re considering a baby at 50, or if you’re in your 50s and expecting, you probably have a lot of questions. The number of women having their first baby when they are over 40 has increased significantly with the advent of assisted reproductive techniques, so if you’re considering having a baby after 50, your dream can still come true.

No doubt, as an older mother, you would probably feel more financially stable and better able to take care of a child than you did when you were younger. You’ll need to be more patient, of course. If you are trying to get pregnant after age 50, you will likely need some fertility help. While it’s not impossible to become pregnant naturally at 50, it is less likely than for a 30-year old or 40-year-old.

While people have traditionally had children in their 20s and 30s, many feel that there are some advantages to waiting — or adding another child to the family years after you’ve had your first.

When you’re in your 40s and 50s, you’re perhaps more likely to have the financial stability and flexibility that can make it easier to care for children. You’ll also have more life experiences.

Having children with a large gap in their ages also has benefits that appeal to many families. A mix of older and younger children allows for the older ones to take a more active role in caring for a new little one.

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And if you already have children when you get pregnant in your 40s or even 50s, you’ll love the joy of parenthood all over again — and likely with less stress than the first time around.

But there are some things to consider. While having a baby later in life can be easier in some respects, it may also be more difficult to conceive. Your pregnancy will also automatically be considered high risk. Be aware that as a woman over 50 who becomes pregnant with donor eggs, you would face similar risks of complications as a younger woman.

To increase your odds of having a healthy pregnancy, make sure you get regular prenatal care, eat a healthy diet, check your weight, avoid alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs and talk to your doctor about testing for chromosomal abnormalities or problems.

If you are over 50, you would probably need specialized care during pregnancy. There are also lifestyle changes to consider. While some women welcome their 50s as an opportunity to explore “me time,” having a baby could disrupt this. It is wise to undergo pre-conception counseling to discuss your reproductive goals with a trained and certified fertility counsellor.

Biologically speaking, women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. Once you hit puberty and start menstruating, you’ll generally release a mature egg each cycle. But the drop in egg count is even more dramatic than that, and numbers will lower each year until menopause.

In fact, it’s estimated the average woman has just 1,000 egg cells by the time she reaches age 51. This is a drastic drop from 500,000 during puberty and 25,000 in your mid-30s.

While getting pregnant with fewer egg cells is not impossible, it may mean that you’ll have a bit more trouble getting pregnant naturally. Egg quality also decreases as we age, which can make conception difficult or increase the risk of chromosomal abnormalities, which can make early pregnancy loss more likely.

The general advice is to see a fertility specialist if you’ve tried to conceive naturally for six months without any results if you are over age 35. However, if you’re actively trying to conceive in your 50s, you may want to talk to your doctor about seeing a fertility specialist even sooner.

In most cases, women who are trying to conceive in their 50’s will require an assisted reproductive treatment such as In vitro Fertilization (IVF) as the quality and quantity of eggs has been diminished by time.

Your doctor may suggest that you have more than one embryo transferred (if you’ve got them) to increase your chances that one of them “sticks.”

However, it’s entirely possible that all the embryos you have transferred will implant — resulting in pregnancy with multiples! Because this makes for a higher risk pregnancy, make sure you discuss the possibility with your doctor and partner.

The use of Donor Eggs is the most logical option as it increases the chances of success significantly. This is because younger eggs are expected to be of better quality and resulting embryos have lower chances of having chromosomal defects. If this is an option for you, it is important to speak with a qualified Fertility Counsellor during the process to better come to terms with your decision.

Being in your 50’s, you may have a few health issues that may make carrying a pregnancy risky. If this is your situation, you might be looking at a possible gestational carrier, another woman who could help carry your child to term. Ask your doctor how you might find a surrogate.

A gestational carrier can become pregnant via IVF using embryos created with donor eggs.

While not necessarily easy, if you want to have a baby in your 50s you certainly have options. Again it is necessary to mention that before you try to conceive, talk to your doctor about your health and whether there are any risk factors that could interfere.

Don’t assume that it’s “too late” — knowledge advances all the time, and families come in many varieties. Your decision to start or add to yours in your 50s is a personal one with many potential rewards.

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