Between 40 and 55 years old, women can experience menopause. It is a normal phase in life where a woman stops menstruating and ceases to be fertile. But is it still possible to get pregnant after menopause? The answer is yes. But it is important to know the stages and the impact they have on your fertility.
Menopause does not happen overnight. It comes in stages, perimenopause, and postmenopause. Both stages may span from months to years. During perimenopause, you become less fertile but you can still get pregnant. At postmenopause, you can no longer get pregnant naturally, but you have the option to have IVF. Read more to understand better.
Pregnancy at Perimenopause
Perimenopause occurs between 3 and 5 years before menopause. At this stage, a woman’s estrogen levels drop significantly, reducing her chances of becoming pregnant.
Symptoms may occur. The most noticeable are the changes in your menstrual pattern. You may have your period between 2 and 3 weeks or not menstruate at all for months at a time. But menopause is confirmed only when you had no menstrual period for one whole year.
Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, anxiety and depression, mood swings and lack of focus.
Yet even while you are at your perimenopause stage, if a viable egg is released and fertilized, you can get pregnant. So if you want to get pregnant or not, tracking your ovulation in the perimenopausal stage is important.
The signs of ovulation include tenderness of the breasts, white vaginal discharge or the use of ovulation test strips. Then you can either prevent from getting pregnant or improve its chances, depending on what you want.
A woman can have several reasons for wanting to get pregnant during perimenopause. Either she had difficulty conceiving earlier or due to lifestyle choices or circumstances. Priorities in career or challenge with finances can be reasons. Or she simply was not ready to become a parent.
You can boost your fertility during perimenopause. You can eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. You can also exercise to increase your chances of conception. Or you can opt for IVF treatment.
Pregnancy at Postmenopause
Once menopause occurs, hormonal changes become permanent. Ovulation no longer takes place and you are unable to conceive naturally.
Any remaining eggs at this stage are no longer viable. That’s where IVF comes in. If a woman wishes to get pregnant after menopause, it is best if she chose to freeze her eggs earlier through egg cryopreservation. Then she can use those frozen eggs for In Vitro Fertilisation. Another option would be IVF through egg donation using fresh or frozen donor eggs.
During postmenopause, a woman will also need to do hormone therapy. This is to prepare the body for implantation and to carry the baby to term.
Treatments Available to get pregnant after menopause
IVF provides hope for women who want to have a baby even when they are already in the menopausal stages. Below are some treatments:
Pregnancy is possible through the use of donor eggs (egg donation treatment). The donor will be younger and healthier, so have more viable eggs. The eggs are fertilized with your partner’s sperm in a laboratory setting. Then, doctors will assess if your body is capable of carrying the baby to term. And you will undergo stimulation to prepare for implantation.
In an embryo donation treatment, you receive eggs from a healthy donor. Using sperm from a sperm bank, the eggs are fertilized in a safe and modern lab environment. The IVF specialist doctor later transfers the embryo into the uterus. This provides hope for couples who are both having infertility problems.
Specialists are doing research on the possibility of reversing menopause. Specialists do not offer it as a treatment yet, but preliminary results have been successful. Some evidence say that it’s possible to “rejuvenate” dormant ovaries to stimulate the release of the egg for fertilization. Research and evidence on this is still limited, but clinical tests have already begun.
Potential Risks of Pregnancy after Menopause
Although possible, pregnancy during perimenopause or postmenopause poses some health risks. Just like pregnancy for women after age 35, these risks include:
- Multiple pregnancies, that may result in early birth, low birth weight, and difficult delivery;
- Gestational diabetes, risking more health problems for both mother and baby;
- High blood pressure, that needs careful monitoring and medication;
- Placenta previa, that may require bed rest, medications, or cesarean delivery;
- Miscarriage or stillbirth;
- Cesarean birth;
- Premature or low birth weight; and
- Chromosomal abnormalities, seen more often among children born to older mothers.
As you get older, preexisting health conditions can complicate pregnancy and delivery. So before deciding on getting pregnant after menopause, consult a specialist doctor who can assess your overall health.
Consult an expert
With the increased risk of complications when you get pregnant after menopause, it is important to consult an expert first. Dunya IVF has highly competent IVF specialist doctors with years of experience. Get a free consultation here now.