Facts You Didnt Know About Menopause And Pregnancy
How do I know if its menopause or pregnancy? Can I get pregnant at 50 years old? Or is it too late? These are just some of the questions women find themselves asking about fertility as they progress into the early years of menopause and their period is late for the first time in years. Women are waiting longer now than ever before to start their families so its important to address these questions head-on. We looked into the research to help provide helpful insights into what menopause means for women who might still be thinking about having children or not.
Myth: Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant During Perimenopause Are So Low That You Dont Need To Use Birth Control
Fact: Although pregnancy becomes less likely as you get older, an unplanned pregnancy is still possible until youve gone 12 months without a period . In addition, the North American Menopause Society doesnt recommend natural family planning for perimenopausal women because it can be difficult to predict when youre ovulating when your periods are irregular.6 Your ob-gyn can recommend the best contraceptive options for you during perimenopause.
Are You Pregnant Or Perimenopausal
Healthcare providers may perform blood tests to determine if a woman who has skipped one or more periods is either pregnant or approaching menopause. These tests measure the levels of certain hormones, some of which signal pregnancy and others that can provide clues about a woman’s ovarian function or decline.
FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, is produced in the brain and increases as the number of eggs produced by a woman’s ovaries decreases. A consistently elevated FSH level along with the ending of menstrual cycles for 12 months supports a diagnosis of menopause.
That being said, FSH levels fluctuate during perimenopauseso it is difficult to interpret a single number. This is why an FSH blood or urine level cannot accurately diagnosis perimenopause or menopause. It is simply another piece of the pie. A women’s symptoms and menstrual history are also needed to put the whole picture together.
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There Are Some Steps You Can Take To Ease The Pregnancy Journey Before Perimenopause
If you or someone you know is interested in trying to get pregnant later in life but before reaching perimenopause, there are some general guidelines that could help ease the transition.
- Make an appointment before you conceive. Meet with your health care practitioner to discuss your overall health. They might have some suggestions for lifestyle changes that could have a positive effect on improving your chances of a healthy pregnancy.1
- Explore prenatal testing options. There are DNA screenings available to see if your developing baby is at risk. Talk to your doctor about these options.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. These substances are definitely off-limits during pregnancy, but given their stress on the body in general, it cant hurt to limit your exposure to them while trying to get pregnant as well.
Are There Any Additional Risks To Being Pregnant During Perimenopause
There are risks associated with pregnancy later in life.
Older mothers are much more likely to have blood pressure problems in pregnancy, have premature births and to have gestational diabetes, so they need to be watched closely and treated aggressively if any medical complications occur, says Dr. Santoro.
For example, pre-eclampsia, is one possible pregnancy complication. Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy-related complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to an organ system, like your kidneys or liver. If not addressed, it can threaten both you and your baby.
As people age, high blood pressure does become more common, and pre-existing high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. But even if you dont have high blood pressure, your age may still increase your risk of having pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, according to ACOG.
So, your doctor may want to watch you closely for signs such as an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, pain in your upper abdomen, a severe headache, changes in vision such as blurred vision. Your doctor might also check you for a lower-than-usual platelet count or signs of abnormal kidney or liver function.
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Next up, here’s your Guide to perimenopause,
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The Symptoms Of Pregnancy Versus Menopause
It’s true that when you’re approaching menopause, many of the symptoms could be confused with signs of pregnancy. During the menopausal transition, symptoms can include:
- Change in menstrual periods
- Mood swings
- Urinating more frequently
But what does that mean for sexually active people as they approach menopause? How do you tell which one it is?
What’s The Best Way To Track Your Fertility
The easiest way to figure out where your fertility is at is by testing your hormone levels.
With Kin’s Fertility Hormone Test, the process is really simple: Order your customised test, visit your local pathology centre, then book a telehealth consult with one of our doctors who’ll take you through your results.
After you’ve done your test and had your online appointment with us, you’ll be able to find out more about:
- How many eggs you have left
- Where your ovulation cycles are at
- Potential egg freezing and IVF outcomes
- Your reproductive timeline
Taking the test can help you plan what’s next â whether that’s wanting to get pregnant, learning more about when to expect menopause and how to manage it, or just making informed decisions about your health.
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What Perimenopause Means For Fertility
Perimenopause. The word itself made me shiver. How could the word menopause be associated with me?
According to the Mayo Clinic, perimenopause means around menopause and begins for most women in their 40s. It is also called the menopausal transition. I looked and felt like I was in my early to mid-30s, but FSH levels indicated my eggs were the age of someone a decade older than me. My fertility doctor explained that about 1% to 2% of women hit perimenopause at my age. I could technically still become pregnant, but it would be a miracle.
How would I have approached my fertility process differently had I known Id become perimenopausal in my late 30s? I believed I had plenty of time to easily conceive, but it turned out my mom had entered menopause at 42in fact we had a strong history of early menopause in my family. Had I understood this, I would have likely frozen a dozen eggs as opposed to four, and I definitely would have had my FSH checked yearly, if not every six months. I certainly would have consulted with a fertility specialist sooner.
Faced with the prospect of my aging eggs, it was time to thaw the eggs Id frozen six years earlier. After months of trying to expand our family, my eggs were defrosted, made into embryos, two of which were viable, and transferred to my uterus. This was it.
But two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Im pregnant, I said in utter disbelief that those words were mine.
Contraception Still Matters During Perimenopause
Because you can still get pregnant during perimenopause, its important to continue using contraception if you dont want to get pregnant. There are hormone changes happening during perimenopause that can result in multiple eggs being released at the same time.1 This can not only make it more likely to get pregnant but to have twins as well! 1 Even if you have a tried and true contraceptive method, perimenopause is a good time to check-in with your doctor. Some contraceptive methods can exacerbate symptoms, while others may help alleviate them. Either way, its worth re-evaluating your options during this new stage of life.
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You Cant Get Pregnant After Menopause
Once youve had a full year without your period the reproductive stage of life is overand so begins a whole new era of life free from periods and fear of pregnancy. If you still want to start a family, there are other options available like adoption. There are still plenty of children out there in need of love and attention, just waiting for someone like you to say hello.
Were lucky to live in an era in which waiting to have children is not only an option but happening with increasing frequency. As long as youre aware of the risks, you can forge ahead down this new path freely empowered by the knowledge that some things may be more complicated, but at the end of this road you can still have the family youve always wanted.
When To See A Doctor About Pregnancy During Menopause
If youre sexually active and youre still having periods and believe you may be pregnant, take a home pregnancy test and discuss the result with your doctor.
If youre over the age of 35 and youve had no luck getting pregnant for more than 6 months, you should also talk to your doctor in case you need to investigate a possible fertility problem.
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You Can Still Get Pregnant In Perimenopausei Did
My husband, Aaron, and I had been trying for baby number two for over a year. After one intrauterine insemination , two unsuccessful rounds of IVF, countless hormones and endless stress and tears, we decided to defrost my frozen eggs. Six years prior, single after a series of bad breakups, I was certain I wanted to be a mom but uncertain Id find a partner. So I made an impulse purchase and signed up with a fertility clinic to freeze my eggs.
Our son turned out to be fairly easy to conceive. At 37, after one miscarriage and five months of trying, I became pregnant. When we decided to have a second child when I was 39, I thought conceiving this time around would be just as certain. It wasnt.
On Mothers Day, the day before my 40th birthday, we learned that our first round of IVF didnt work. My body and mind were exhausted. Balancing fertility drugs and treatments, caring for our toddler and recovering from three additional miscarriages in 10 months, I felt as though I were playing one of those carnival gamesI bopped one miscarriage over the head, only for another pregnancy loss or failed fertility treatment to pop up, leaving us no closer to a baby.
How was this happening to me? There were six sets of twins and a set of natural triplets in my fertile Midwest Jewish family. The running joke was that my mom looked at my dad to become pregnant. My body is failing our family, I told Aaron. Women much older than me are popping out babies everyday.
My FSH measured at 25.4.
Do You Still Ovulate During Perimenopause
While the level of estrogen in your body may rise and fall unevenly during perimenopause, estrogen is gradually on the decline and with that comes a decline in ovulation. As changes happen to your menstrual cycle, you may begin having cycles where an egg isnt released or ovulation doesnt occur.
That doesnt mean that ovulation has stopped altogether. Irregular periods may be the result of not ovulating every month, but your body is still able to ovulate, the schedule just might be more erratic.
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Fertility In Women As They Age
A woman is most fertile in her 20s, and as she ages her ability to reproduce declines, especially after she reaches the age of 35.
Here are some stats for fertility as women age:
- A healthy, fertile woman at the age of 30 has a 20% chance of getting pregnant every month that she tries to conceive.
All of these stats are true for natural conception, fertility treatments, as well as in vitro fertilization . Unfortunately, the media has propagated the idea that women can get pregnant any time before or after menopause with fertility treatments, but the reality is that a womans age affects the success rates of infertility treatments as much as it affects natural conception. As a woman ages, the quality and quantity of her eggs continually decline. A woman in her 50s could potentially still get pregnant, but the only way that could happen would be through a donor egg and in vitro fertilization, and even then the chances of conceiving are very slim.
How Likely Is It To Get Pregnant During Menopause
Getting pregnant during menopause isn’t super likely, but it’s not impossible.
After the age of 35, fertility starts to decline, and according to a recent study , less than 1 in 100 women conceive naturally over the age of 50.
Women with a family history of late menopause, or those with family members who didn’t have many symptoms when they went through it, might want to be a little more cautious if they’re avoiding pregnancy.
If you think you’ve started menopause already and you’re wanting to get pregnant, you can find out more about your options by taking a fertility test.
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Action Plan For Successful Conception
The key to optimizing your conception efforts during perimenopause is to act fast. Perimenopause usually lasts for a few years, and making aproactive action plan can help you optimize your chances of conceiving.
Your Health Questions Answered
- Answered by: Dr Roger HendersonAnswered: 29/11/2021
If youre having difficulty becoming pregnant and you think you may be in the perimenopause, speak to your doctor. Theyll be able to discuss how to improve your chances of having a baby. If appropriate, they may be able to refer you to a specialist for consideration of fertility treatments like IVF.
If youre not eligible for fertility treatment through your healthcare system, you could consider treatment through a private clinic, but you would need to pay for this service.
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Chances Of Pregnancy During Perimenopause
The pregnancy rate for perimenopausal women is estimated to be 10-20 percent in women ages 40-44 and 12 percent in women ages 45-49. Unintentional pregnancy is rare in women over age 50, but you should still exercise caution. About 5 in 100 women having unprotected sexual intercourse at age 50 will become pregnant.
Fertility typically drops with age, especially after 35, but unless you are in full menopause, its reasonable to assume that you can still get pregnant . Birth rates for women ages 45 and above may be small, but national surveys still report that pregnancy is possible in midlife.
So, can you get pregnant during perimenopause? Absolutely, but there are factors to consider that will impact your chances of success. Even with the drop in estrogen, most women will continue to ovulate and menstruate during perimenopause, but periods may become irregular or less frequent. Its possible to get pregnant as long as ovulation is still occurring, but the number and quality of eggs will continue to reduce over time.
Older women are also likely to have additional health factors that may interfere with conception such as high blood pressure, genetic predispositions or conditions of the cervix and ovaries. Regardless of age-related decline, your chances of pregnancy in perimenopause are greatly reduced, but not altogether impossible.
Maintaining A Healthy Pregnancy During Perimenopause
When you’ve conceived successfully, you should work towards maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Make sure you find a medical doctor to give you professional advice on the best prenatal care options. You should also go on leading a healthy lifestyle, including observing a well-balanced diet, exercising, and managing stress.
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Detecting The Menopause Baby
As you go through the cycle of menopause, it’s important to keep up to date with regular gynecological checkups. These checkups will help you treat any symptoms as well as allow for the doctor to possibly detect a pregnancy before it is too late to begin prenatal care.
It’s also important to keep track of all your menstrual cycles well into menopause and take note of any changes occurring in the body. There are clear signs when pregnancy begins that will not be synonymous with menopause. These symptoms may include the total cessation of periods, an unexplained increased in weight, and swelling of the extremities.