Question: I’m nearly 50 and want to get pregnant. Am I being completely unrealistic—if it’s possible, what should I be doing?
Answer: Before you think that Halle Berry and Janet Jackson are fertility super goddesses, know it is possible to get pregnant in your late 40s and even at 50. However, not surprisingly, it can be challenging. Here are the five other questions you need to have answered about testing, doctors and alternative medicine treatments.
HB asked a family practitioner and an acupuncturist who specializes in gynecological issues on what to know, do and prepare for pregnancy at this age. Remember, this is only an overview—you should make sure to have a team (gynecologist, acupuncturist and midwife) who can best address your individual needs.
When do I tell my doctor I want to have a baby?
Time is of the essence for women in their late 40s who want to get pregnant. So talk to your doctor right now. Like, today. “Women above age 35 who still have their menses can become pregnant without donor eggs but it depends on their reproductive potential as a function of the number and quality of her remaining eggs which tends to decrease with age,” says Dr. Gayon Hyatt, a family medical practitioner based in Montclair, NJ. “Every woman is different however, and it is important for physicians to individualize care based on each person rather than the collective.
What tests should I get done?
- Blood tests to measure FSH (Follicular Stimulating Hormone) and AmH (Anti Mullerian Hormone), which are typical markers that can give an idea of ovarian response and age. “They are used by Fertility Doctors to determine eligibility and prognosis for the use of hormones in Assisted Reproduction,” says Caroline Radice, a Manhattan-based acupuncturist who treats many women with fertility and gynecological concerns. “But they are only a snapshot. I have had many women who are told they won’t conceive based on their numbers, and have no problem doing so.”
- An ultrasound can also be ordered to evaluate the ovarian reserve and to take a look at the structure of the uterus and ovaries.
How can acupuncture help?
“Acupuncture can assist with conception by promoting ovulation and regulating hormones, as well as reducing the likelihood and intensity of potential side effects, but unfortunately it cannot change the age of the eggs,” says Radice.
Begin treatment three months prior to trying to conceive.
What other lifestyle changes can I make?
Check that your blood pressure and insulin levels are well regulated. In addition, eliminate smoking, alcohol, and caffeine, putting a focus on healthy whole foods, regular moderate exercise, and plenty of sleep. “A healthy you will assist in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and baby,” says Dr. Hyatt.
What if I can not get pregnant with my own eggs—what are my choices other than adoption?
“The odds of a woman in her late 40s or early 50s conceiving a child with her own eggs [are small],” says Radice, who knows that such information can be hard to hear, but she believes it is best to approach motherhood at this age with all of the facts up front. “Assisted Reproductive Techniques like in-vitro fertilization and donor eggs raise that threshold substantially.” If you have not conceived within six months, talk to your doctor about these options as possible next steps.