June 14, 2024

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Can You Get Pregnant After Menopause?

We’ve all heard anecdotal stories about people getting pregnant and carrying babies to term in their 40s, 50s, or even later. However, the likelihood of having children declines as a person ages; the chance of getting pregnant naturally after menopause is 0%.

Still, you may be able to get pregnant under some circumstances if you’ve gone through menopause. Fertility treatments have made it possible for some people to get pregnant without having a menstrual cycle.

Whether you’re curious about the chance of pregnancy at 37 or 55, here’s what you should know about the likelihood and possible risks of getting pregnant after menopause.

Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa / Getty Images


The development of menopause is progressive. There are three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause, also called the menopausal transition, often starts during someone’s 30s or 40s and lasts five years or more. Many people going through perimenopause first notice changes to their period, such as lighter bleeding or irregular cycles.

During perimenopause, the body’s levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone start to shift dramatically. These hormonal changes can lead to many symptoms, including:

  • Brain fog
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings, depression, and anxiety
  • Problems with memory
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sexual side effects, such as lower libido and vaginal dryness
  • Urine leakage due to changes to the pelvic floor
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Menopause

Menopause is a normal part of healthy aging. Sometimes called the “change of life,” menopause refers to the point in time when someone has not had a period for 12 months in a row. Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, although it may happen earlier or later in some cases.

Postmenopause

Postmenopause is the time in someone’s life after they permanently stop having menstrual periods. While it varies widely, the average age at which someone reaches menopause and enters the postmenopausal period is 51.

Many people notice changes in their weight, body composition—such as how body fat is distributed—energy levels, mood, and overall health and well-being after menopause. There are also several potential long-term complications associated with postmenopause, including:

Many postmenopausal health complications are linked to lower estrogen levels, while others are related to aging. These symptoms can often be addressed with lifestyle changes, hormone therapy, supplements, medication, or a combination of treatments.

While it’s not likely that you’ll have an unplanned pregnancy during perimenopause, it’s not impossible. For most women, the chance of getting pregnant begins declining at age 30. This decline is followed by another dip in their late 30s and a significant, rapid decline when they reach their late 40s.

When you notice the first symptoms of perimenopause, such as a missed period, your ovarian reserve has likely declined significantly. Changes in estrogen levels, irregular periods, and decreased sex drive may also make it harder to conceive during perimenopause.

During the menopause stage, it’s not possible to become pregnant naturally because your periods have ended. If you’re noticing symptoms of menopause and want to have a baby, talk to a healthcare provider about fertility testing.

They can test your levels of fertility-related hormones, such as anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This can help you learn more about your likelihood of getting pregnant within the next few years.

Generally, people don’t experience natural pregnancies after menopause because they won’t be able to ovulate. However, assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods can make it possible to have a pregnancy during postmenopause.

You can get pregnant using fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is a form of ART that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory. After fertilization, the embryo is transferred to your uterus.

Post-menopausal people who want to get pregnant through IVF typically use donor eggs from someone else. Donor eggs can be combined either with your partner’s sperm or with donated sperm. If you’ve had eggs or embryos frozen in the past, you can also use them for IVF even if you’ve gone through menopause.

People who get pregnant at age 35 or later have an increased risk of:

  • Cesarean section (C-section)
  • Having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)

If you’re going through perimenopause, your chance of getting pregnant without fertility treatments is low, but not zero. However, reaching menopause and postmenopause makes natural pregnancy unlikely.

If you’ve already gone through menopause but want to get pregnant, talk to a healthcare provider about the possibility of IVF. You’ll also want to talk with them if you think you may be pregnant, regardless of your age.

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