Advantages And Drawbacks Of Pregnancy After Age 50

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Earlier, having babies after a certain maternal age was considered risky and unthinkable. However, with the recent trend of celebrities having babies at or above 45, people have even begun considering pregnancy after age 50. Though it is possible to conceive at 50 or higher, certain factors may make the journey from conception to a healthy pregnancy tough for older women.

Usually, a woman may not get pregnant after she attains menopause, a state in which she is devoid of menstruation for a year. The average age for menopause in most women is 51 years, post which it becomes impossible to conceive naturally. During menopause, a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes inconsistent and eventually ends.

After 40, the egg’s quality deteriorates though the periods are regular, making it difficult to conceive a healthy baby, especially after 42. Moreover, by menopause, woman are left with 1000 eggs in the ovary (1). On the other hand, in men, the sperm quality is good at least till the age of 60; nevertheless, paternal age also increases the risk factor for genetic defects (2).

It is quite rare to have a completely healthy gestation at or after 50. Further, only 0.01% of women above the age of 47 reportedly have a natural birth. Therefore, such women can only conceive via egg donation and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) processes.

Do you want to know more about this topic? Then read this post to learn more about becoming pregnant after 50, including its advantages and drawbacks.

How To Get Started?

To give yourself a chance for a normal normal pregnancy and a healthy and fit baby, we would suggest you take a few steps before you try to conceive. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the pregnancy (3).

  • If you are in your 50s, consult a fetal specialist, if you don’t get pregnant even after having unprotected sex for over six months. Or you can visit a specialist right away, especially if you have specific reasons for not being able to get pregnant like ovulation difficulties, irregular or missed periods or problems with your spouse’s sperm.
  • The specialist will prescribe some tests to check whether you have problems with the ovaries function or not. He will also check for problems with the Fallopian tubes or with your partner’s sperm.
  • If everything is fine, then most probably, your egg quality has declined, or you have become infertile. The specialist will next advise you on the options, depending on your condition. In vitro fertilization and egg donation would most probably be recommended.
  • For the egg donation method, you will first be screened, which includes an ultrasound of the uterus to ensure that you can carry the baby and blood tests. Then you have to go through a psychological evaluation to make sure that you are mentally prepared to have a baby who is not genetically related to you.
  • Internist would be the best person to look into this matter. The internist will have a look at anemia, hypertension, pulmonary problems, heart problems, diabetes and other conditions that could get worse during pregnancy.
  • Once the woman is cleared, she will take estrogen, hormones, and progesterone for four and a half weeks to prepare her uterus for receiving the fertilized eggs. After the egg is implanted in her uterus, the woman will continue to take the estrogen for another eight weeks. Besides, she will also prescribe progesterone, a shot that she has to take home until the 10th week of pregnancy.

Advantages of Getting Pregnant After 50

Believe it or not, there are several benefits of becoming a mother when you are older than 50. Here are a few:

1. Late Mothers Live Longer:

A study conducted by the University of Utah found that women who have babies in their 50s tend to live longer, whether they conceive naturally or through other methods.

2. Financially Secure:

Waiting to become a mother also has its share of financial benefits (4). A US study found that a woman’s earnings increase 9 to 10% every year she delays having a child. When you are a parent, especially a single parent and are late for work, it can cost you your job. Very few bosses are considerate to single mothers. So you will be a lot more relaxed at this stage of life, both mentally and financially.

3. You Are Likely To Be More Experienced:

One of the biggest advantages of late pregnancy is that you have seen the most of the world and know how things work. You are more comfortable, secure in your career, and are likely to make wiser parenting decisions (4).

Drawbacks of Getting Pregnant At 50 Years Or After

Postponing parenthood and having babies at and after 50 can also cause some serious problems. These include:

1. Health Risk:

In the year 2012, a study revealed that the health of women aged 50 or older who conceived using donated eggs was as good as for the younger recipients, provided they were well cared for during and after pregnancy. But some medical risks do exist. Late pregnancy increases the possibility of diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia, a complication characterized by high blood pressure and even organ damage in some cases. Besides these, growth restriction, stillbirth, preterm delivery and multiple births are potential complications (4).

2. Physically Harder:

Pregnancy is physically hard on older women, and the weight of carrying a child can be stressful for women than it would be for young women (4).

3. Risk To Newborns:

Not just the mom-to-be, even the newborns face certain risks, for example, Down syndrome and genetic abnormalities. You can minimize the possibility of these risks by using eggs of young donors (4).

4. Financial Strain:

One last thing, while there are monetary advantages of having babies later in life, there are liabilities as well. The more you wait, the more likely you are to continue working at an older age. You will have financial responsibilities at a time when most of your friends are planning retirement. Healthcare and life insurance are likely to get even more expensive. And the cost of fertility treatments adds up to the burden.

Pregnancy after the age of 50 can be challenging due to the onset of menopause, but it is not impossible. With the help of egg donation and IVF, you can conceive after 50, but natural conceiving is quite rare. If you haven’t become pregnant after having unprotected sex for more than six months, see a professional for a diagnosis and alternative possibilities for conceiving. Despite the numerous health risks to both the mother and the newborn, there are some benefits to late pregnancy, such as late mothers are financially stable, comfortable with motherhood, and are bound to make sensible parenting decisions.

References:

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Dr. Irene (Eirini) Orfanoudaki

(PhD, MD)
Dr. Irene (Eirini) Orfanoudaki is a gynecologist-obstetrician, having a private practice in Heraklion, Crete, and collaborating with private health clinic 'MITERA' - Euromeda in Heraklion. With more than two decades of experience as a gynecologist-obstetrician, she specializes in ultrasound, colposcopy, minimal and advance gynecologic surgery, aesthetic gynecology, fertility consulting, menopause consulting, operative obstetrics, high-risk pregnancy, normal deliveries, antenatal, intra-parum, postnatal... more

shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more

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