Simply put, yes, you can conceive during perimenopause, but the chances are much lower, says Dr. Gunjan Sabherwal, IVF Specialist in Gurugram, Nova Southend IVF and Fertility. Perimenopause is a stage that precedes the menopause phase, and women still experience irregular menstrual cycle during this time. You can still become pregnant during perimenopause as you are still actively menstruating. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 1,073 women aged 50 and up, gave birth in 2019, an increase from 959 in 2018.
Perimenopause is the period of time before menopause when a woman's ovaries begin to show signs of ageing. Periods become less frequent, ovulation becomes unstable, and oestrogen levels start to fall. Perimenopause typically begins in a woman's 40s, though some women start it in their 30s. Perimenopause can last as little as a few months for some women, but also as long as 14 years for others.
Is it Possible to Get Pregnant during Perimenopause?
Although fertility is significantly reduced by the time women reach perimenopause, it is still possible to become pregnant. However, because of the follicular dysfunction associated with perimenopause, it is more difficult to conceive during this time.
During the perimenopausal transition, your ovaries continue to function, but they aren't as efficient as they once were, or the hormones associated with ovulation aren't optimal enough to support a pregnancy.
Your body's production of oestrogen and progesterone is a significant step in fertilisation. These hormone levels fluctuate sporadically during perimenopause, resulting in irregular periods, low ovulation, and some of the symptoms associated with menopause, such as mood swings and night sweats. As a result, the fluctuations in these reproductive hormone levels make it more difficult to become pregnant.
However, pregnancy during perimenopause is still possible as long as your ovaries continue to function and you are ovulating on a regular basis.
How to increase chances of pregnancy
There are numerous things middle-aged women can do to support a healthy pregnancy—some of which may necessitate the assistance of a doctor. If you're over the age of 35 and haven't conceived after six months of unprotected intercourse, it's time to consult a fertility specialist to explore fertility solutions such as cryopreservation, also known as elective egg freezing. This preserves the quality of your eggs before they deteriorate further with age.
Although, it is essential to note that while you can freeze your eggs in your early 40s, the chances of those frozen eggs helping you conceive aren't as good as they would have been if you had frozen them earlier.
Common fertility treatment consists of medications that help stimulate ovulation, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilisation and surgery. In addition to these, a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercise, adequate sleep, reduced stress, and abstaining substances are all other factors that can help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
What Are the Risks of a Perimenopausal Pregnancy?
- Miscarriage rates among older mothers rise due to lower-quality eggs, fluctuating hormones, and uterine changes.
- Poor egg quality also increases the likelihood of birth defects like Down syndrome, which is caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra chromosome.
- Moreover, other birth risks include low birth weight, premature birth, chromosomal abnormalities, and complications during caesarean deliveries.
- Diabetes, strokes, seizures, gestational diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure are more common in older women, which increases their risk of pregnancy complications.
- Premature birth (anytime before 37 weeks of gestation) is associated with a slew of complications ranging from cerebral palsy to learning and developmental disabilities.
While there is nothing you can do to prevent or delay menopause, it is still possible to become pregnant during perimenopause. Everyone experiences perimenopause at a different age, so consult with your healthcare provider today to better plan your future ahead.
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