While some women are able to have children at a record age thanks to fertility technologies, getting pregnant naturally is a different story. If, at the age of 40, the chances of conceiving diminish considerably, there is an age when it becomes impossible.
Invited to intervene in the radio program “There are not two like her” of Europe 1, the columnists rely on the example of Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the owner of the Olympique de Marseille who had twins at 50 years. This happy event has reopened the debate on late pregnancies and their risks for the health of the mother and the baby.
An expert gives the percentages of chances to get pregnant
Based on the example of the founder of the sports club, François Olivine’s, gynecologist-obstetrician believes that the pregnancy of the celebrity originates from a medical treatment, such as an egg donation. “We can’t prejudge too much,” the doctor says. If there are indeed natural late pregnancies, it is exceptional, and the expert gives figures to assess the chances of getting pregnant at each age. For the specialist, after 45 years, we have less than 20% chance of procreating. At 40, the chances of having a child naturally decrease, according to the doctor. “We have one chance out of two to be pregnant in a natural way”, attests François Olivine’s. To summarize, the doctor explains that at 25 years old, there is a probability of 90% while from 45 years old, the order is 20%. To have a child, some women can consider everything. This was the case for this woman who asked her mother to carry her baby.
“At 45 years old, there is eight times more risk of dying from pregnancy”.
The specialist in the delivery of women evokes a preconceived notion that he wants to dismantle. He explains that in Europe, we often tend to consider that beyond the age of 48-50, pregnancy can be “risky”. He qualifies this by explaining that this danger does not necessarily mean that the pregnant woman’s life is at stake. He indicates: “At 45 years old, there is eight times more risk of dying from pregnancy but the number of women who die in France because of their pregnancy is very low”, he affirms. For François Olivine’s, there is an age limit at which it is recommended not to get pregnant, namely at 48 years. Inked data also provides estimates on the probability of becoming pregnant. According to the health statistics organization, a woman who wants to get pregnant at 30 has a 93% chance of succeeding. At age 40, the chances drop to 65%.
Why does fertility decline with age?
If the chances of getting pregnant decrease with time, it is for a biological reason. Professor François Olivine’s, who is also a specialist in infertility treatments, explains that when a woman is 40 years old, her oocytes are less numerous, and above all, they age, even if it is shocking to say so,” says the expert. When a woman wishes to resort to medically assisted reproduction, the probability of becoming pregnant also varies according to age. At age 25, it is 25%, 12% at age 35 and 6% at age 40. While a woman of this age can conceive with her own eggs, it is impossible for a woman of 45 to consider this. If this fertility treatment does not work, a woman who wants to have a child can resort to in vitro fertilization or egg donation. The success rate is 2% per attempt when IVF is performed at age 44 with the patient’s own eggs. This woman had a child at 72 years of age thanks to this reproductive technique.
What are the risks of pregnancy after 40?
If we speak about pregnancy at risk after 40 years, it is because the woman can expose her baby to risks. Among them, that of trisomy 21, where the probability becomes more important. With age, the rate of chromosomal abnormalities in oocytes increases. At age 30, it is estimated that 30% of oocytes are affected. At age 40, we are talking about 60% and 90% at age 45. This is not the only danger of a late pregnancy since between 40 and 44 years, the risk of miscarriage is 34%. A rate that increases significantly with the aging of the ovum.