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Are you looking forward to conceiving in your late forties? Are signs of ovulation making you hopeful of getting pregnant? If you're wondering, can a woman get pregnant after menopause? We spoke to an OB-GYN to get all the details.
There is a small chance of getting pregnant after menopause. This chance exists because of fertility treatments like IVF. Before we get into the details of how a woman can get pregnant after menopause, let’s explain what menopause is.
Menopause is a phase in which you don’t get your menstrual period for at least 12 consecutive months. The average age for menopause transition is between 45 - 55 years old; typically, menopause has three stages.
In Perimenopause, women still get their period, but they are irregular periods. Enter hot flashes, mood swings, tender breasts, discomfort during sex, fatigue, insomnia, etc. This phase lasts for an average of four months. Remember, you can get pregnant in this phase. Keep your birth control close during this time.
This phase starts when you’ve had your last period. The only way to confirm you’ve hit menopause is by going 12 consecutive months without having menstrual periods.
Once you’ve crossed the one-year mark, you’re officially postmenopausal. After this phase, any kind of vaginal bleeding is abnormal.
According to Dr. Tiffany Pham, OB-GYN and medical board advisor at Flo, “We typically only ovulate one egg per month; however, a certain number of eggs are always recruited from each ovary every month to prepare your body for ovulation. The eggs that do not make it are discarded or reabsorbed by the body. Therefore, as we age, we continue to lose eggs on a monthly basis.
This gradual decline in your egg count also leads to a decrease in the production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The decline in your hormones is what can cause some of the symptoms that you experience in the menopausal transition.”
You don’t get your period during menopause, which means your body isn’t producing a viable egg for reproduction. Hence, your chance of getting pregnant naturally after menopause is close to nil.
A minor chance exists in the perimenopause phase i.e. until you don’t get your menstrual periods for 12 months. It’s important to understand that as you age and reach closer to menopause, the risk of an abnormal pregnancy increases.
And even if it’s rare, there have been cases of pregnancy where women have conceived during or after menopause with fertility treatments.
“The rate of successful pregnancies resulting in a live birth between the ages of 50 and 55 is approximately 0.006%. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has increased the chances of fertility in the older population; however, the success rates remain low. The data shows the IVF success rate for people in their mid to late 40s is approximately 0.5% - 2.9%,” says Dr. Pham.
There’s no definitive oldest age for a woman to get pregnant. Fun fact time - Did you know that the oldest woman conceived naturally when she was 67 years old? The reason it’s so rare is that our hormones stop helping out with the creation of new eggs for fertilization.
“When we reach puberty, the number of eggs remaining is around 300,000 - 500,000. After puberty, the brain signals the ovary for ovulation, which is the release of an egg from the ovary (a period is typically the result of ovulation without fertilization of that egg).
We ovulate one egg per month, but our ovaries recruit multiple eggs for ovulation. The ones that don’t make it to ovulation are either discarded or reabsorbed by the body.
As the number of eggs gets fewer and fewer as we age, the signals from the brain to the ovary to stimulate ovulation are no longer enough to cause ovulation to occur; this will eventually lead to your period stopping altogether,” states Dr. Pham.
As you enter menopause, your hormones stop your ovaries from producing eggs. This leads to a permanent stop to the ovulation process and a bid to your reproductive years.
Dr. Pham explains, “In order for ovulation to occur, the brain has to send very strong signals to the ovary through Luteinizing Hormone (LH) to tell the ovary to release or ovulate an egg. The brain sends these strong LH signals to the ovary when there is a high enough level of estrogen that is produced by the eggs in the ovary.
Because there are so few eggs left in the ovary at that point, the ovaries do not produce enough estrogen to give the brain the signal that it is ready for ovulation, therefore ovulation generally stops after you have reached menopause.”
There is a slim chance of getting pregnant during menopause i.e. until you don’t get your period consecutively for 12 months.
No, after menopause your ovaries stop releasing eggs.
It’s impossible to get pregnant naturally after menopause since your body stops releasing eggs. However, data has shown special cases of women conceiving with fertility treatments or hormone therapy.
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